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Full text of "Falkner : a novel"



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((^^l^s^^Utt^"^ 









F A L K N E R. 



A NOVEL. 



BY THE AUTHOR OP 



'FRANKENSTEIN," "THE LAST MAN," &c. 



" There stood. 
In record of a sweet sad slory, 
An aliar, and a temple bright. 
Circled by steps, and o'er the gate 
Was sculptured, "To Fidelity I'" 



COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME. 



NEW-YORK: 

PUBLISHED BY HARPEH & BROTHERS, 
NO. 8 2 CMFF-STREKT. 

1837. 



Digitized by tlie Internet Arcliive 
in 2010 witli funding from 
Duke University Libraries 



http://www.arcliive.org/details/falknernovelOOsliel 






F A L K N E R. 



CHAPTER I. 

The opening scene of this tale took place in a little vil- 
lage on the southern coast of Cornwall. Treby (by that 
name we choose to designate a spot whose true one, for 
several reasons, will not be given) was, indeed, rather a 
hamlet than a village ; although, being at the seaside, there 
were two or three houses which, by dint of green paint and 
chints curtains, pretended to give the accommodation of 
" Apartments Furnished" to the few bathers who, having 
heard of its cheapness, seclusion, and beauty, now and then 
resorted thither from the neighbouring towns. 

This part of Cornwall shares much of the peculiar and 
exquisite beauty which every Englishman knows adorns 
" the sweet shire of Devon." The hedges near Trcby, like 
those round Dawlish and Torquay, are redolent with a thou- 
sand flowers ; the neighbouring fields are pranked with all 
the colours of Flora — its soft air — the picturesque bay in 
which it stood, as it were, enshrined — its red cliffs, and ver- 
dure reaching to the very verge of the tide — all breathe the 
same festive and genial atmosphere. The cottages give 
the same promise of comfort, and are adorned by nature 
with more luxurious loveliness than the villas of the rich in 
a less happy climate. 

Treby was almost unknown ; yet whoever visited it might 
well prefer its sequestered beauties to many more renowned 
competitors. Situated in the depths of a little bay. it was 
sheltered on all sides by the cliflTs. Just behind the hamlet 
the cliff made a break, forming a little ravine, in the depth 
of which ran a clear stream, on whose banks were spread 
the orchards of the villagers, whence they derived their 
chief wealth. Tangled bushes and luxuriant herbage diver- 
sified the cliffs, some of which were crowned by woods ; 
and in " every nook and coign of 'vantage" were to be seen 
and scented the glory of that coast — its exhaustless store of 
flowers. The village was, as has been said, in the depth of 
a bay ; towards the east the coast rounded off with a broad 
sweep, forming a varied line of bay and headland ; to the 



6 FALKNER. . 

west a little promontory shot out abruptly, and at once 
closed in the view. This point of land was the peculiarity 
of Treby. The cliff that gave it its picturesque appearance 
was not high, but was remarkable for being crowned by the 
village church, with its slender spire. 

Long may it be before the village churchyard ceases to 
be in England a favoured spot — the home of rural and holy 
seclusion. At Treby it derived a new beauty from its dis- 
tance from the village and the eminence on which it was 
placed, overlooking the wide ocean, the sands, the village 
itself, with its gardens, orchai-ds, and gayly-painted fields. 
From the church a straggling, steep, yet not impracticable 
path led dov>^n to the sands by way of the beach ; indeed, 
the distance from the village to the church was scarcely 
more than half a mile ; but no vehicle could approach ex- 
cept by the higher road, which, following the line of coast, 
measured nearly two miles. The edifice itself, picturesque 
in its rustic simplicity, seemed at the distance to be imbo- 
somed in a neighbouring grove. There was no house, nor 
even cottage, near. The contiguous churchyard contained 
about two acres ; a light white paling surrounded it on three 
sides ; on the fourth was a high wall, clothed thickly with 
ivy : the trees of the near wood overhung both wall and pa- 
ling, except on the side of the cliff". The waving of their 
branches, the murmur of the tide, and the occasional scream 
of seafowl, were all the sounds that disturbed, or rather 
harmonized with, the repose and solitude of the spot. 

On Sunday, the inhabitants of several hamlets congregated 
here to attend divine service. Those of Treby usually ap- 
proached by the beach and the path of the cliff, the old and 
infirm only taking the longer but more easy road. On ev- 
ery other day of the week all was quiet, except when the 
hallowed precincts were visited by happy parents with a 
newborn babe, by bride and bridegroom hastening all gladly 
to enter on the joys and cares of life — or by the train of 
mourners who attended relation or friend to the last repose 
of the dead. 

The poor are not sentimental — and, except on Sunday, 
after evening service, when a mother might linger for a few 
moments near the fresh grave of a lately lost child — or, loi- 
tering among the rustic tombs, some of the elder peasants 
told tales of the feats of the dead companions of their youtli, 
a race unequalled, so they said, by the generation around 
them. Save on that day, none ever visited or waiidered 
among the graves, with the one exception of a child, who 
had early learned to mourn, yet whose infantine mind could 
scarcely understand tlie extent of tlie cause she had for 
tears. A little girl, unnoticed and alone, was wont each 
evening to trip over the sands — to scale with light steps the 
cliff, which was of no gigantic height, and then, unlatdiiiig 



FALKNER. 7 

the low white gate of the churcliyard, to repair to one cor- 
ner, wliere the boughs of the near trees shadowed over two 
graves — two graves, of which one only was distinguished by 
a simple headstone, to commemorate the name of him who 
mouldered beneath. This tomb was inscribed to the mem- 
ory of Edwin Raby, but the neighbouring and less honoured 
grave cUiimed more of the child's attention — for her mother 
lay beneath the unrecorded turf. 

Beside this grassy hillock she Avould sit, and talk to her- 
self, and play, till, warned home by the twilight, she knelt 
and said lier little prayer, and, with a " Good-night, mam- 
ma," took leave of a spot with which was associated the 
being whose caresses and love she called to mind, hoping 
that one day she might again enjoy them. Her appearance 
had much in it to invite remark, had there been any who 
cared to notice a poor little orphan. Her dress, in some of 
its parts, betokened that she belonged to the better classes 
■of society ; but she had no stockings, and her little feet 
peeped from the holes of her well-worn shoes. Her straw 
bonnet was died dark with sun and sea spray, and its blue 
riband faded. The child herself would, in any other spot, 
have attracted more attention than the incongruities of her 
attire. There is an expression of face which we name an- 
gelic, from its purity, its tenderness, and, so to speak, plain- 
tive serenity, which we oftener see in young children than 
in persons of a more advanced age. And such was hers : 
her hair, of a light golden brown, was parted over a brow 
fair and open as day : her eyes, deep set and earnest, were 
full of thought and tenderness : her complexion was pure 
and stainless, except by the roses that glowed in her cheek ; 
while each vein could be traced on her temples, and you 
could almost mark the floAV of the violet-coloured blood be- 
neath : her moutli was the very nest of love : her serious 
look was at once fond and imploring ; but when she smiled, 
it was as if sunshine broke out at once, warm and uncloud- 
ed : her figure had the plumpness of infancy ; but her tiny 
hands and feet, and tapering waist, denoted the faultless 
perfection of her form. She was about six years old — a 
friendless orphan, cast, thus young, penniless, on a thorny, 
stony-hearted world. 

Nearly two years previous, a gentleman, Avith his wife 
and little daughter, arrived at Treby, and took up his abode 
at one of the moderate-priced lodging-houses before men- 
tioned. Tlie occasion of their visit was but too evident. 
The husband, IMr. Raby, was dying of a consumption. The 
family had migrated early in September, so to receive tlie 
full benefit of a mild winter in this favoured spot. It did not 
appear to those about him that he could live to see that win- 
ter. He was wasted lo a shadow — the hectic in his cheek, 
the brightness of his eyes, and the debility apparent in ever- 



8 FALKNER. 

movement, showed that disease was triumphing over the 
principles of life. Yet, contrary to every prognostic, he 
lived on from week to week, from month to month. Now 
he was said to be better — now worse — and thus a winter of 
extraordinaiy mildness was passed. But with the east 
winds of spring a great deterioration was visible. His in- 
valid walks in the sun grew shorter, and then were ex- 
changed for a few minutes passed sitting in his garden. 
Soon he was confined to his room — then to his bed. During 
the first week of a bleak ungenial May, he died. 

The extreme affection tliat subsisted between the pair 
rendered his widow an object of interest even to the villa- 
gers. They were both young, and she was beautiful ; and 
more beautiful was their offspring — the little girl we have 
mentioned:— who, watched over and attended on by her mo- 
ther, attracted admiration as well as interest, bj^ the peculiar 
style of her childish, yet perfect loveliness. Every one won- 
dered what the bereaved lady would do ; and she, poor soul, 
wondered herself, and would sit watching the gambols of her 
child in an attitude of unutterable despondency, till the little 
girl, remarking the sadness of her mother, gave over play- 
ing to caress, and kiss her, and to bid her smile. At such a 
word the tears fell fast from the widow's eyes, and the 
frightened child Joined her sobs and cries to hers. 

Whatever might be the sorrows and difficulties of the un- 
happy lady, it was soon evident to all but herself that her 
own life was a fragile tenure. She had attended on her 
husband with unwearied assiduity, and, added to bodily fa- 
tigue, was mental suffering ; partly arising from anxiety 
and grief, and partly from the very virtues of the sufferer. 
He knew that he was dying, and tried to reconcile his wife 
to her anticipated loss. But his words, breathing the most 
passionate love and purest piety, seemed almost to call her 
also from the desolation to which he was leaving her, and 
to dissolve the ties that held her to earth. When he was 
gone, life possessed no one attraction except their child. 
Often while her father, with pathetic eloquence, tried to 
pour the balm of resignation, and hopes of eternal reunion, 
into his wife's heart, she had sat on her mother's knee, or 
on a little stool at her feet, and looked up, with her cherub 
face, a little perplexed, a little fearful, till, at some words of 
too plain and too dread an import, she sprung into her 
father's arms, and clinging to his neck, amid tears and 
sobs, cried out, " You must not leave us, papa ! you must 
stay — you shall not go away !" 

Consumption, in all countries except our own, is consid- 
ered a contagious disorder, and it too often proves such here. 
During her close attendance, Mrs. Raby had imbibed the 
seeds of the fatal malady ; and grief, and a delicate texture 
of nerves, caused them' to develop with alarming rapidity. 



FALKNER. 9 

Evory one perceived tliis except herself. She thought that 
lier indisposition sprung from over-fatigue and grief, but lliat 
lepose would soon restore her ; and each day, as her flesh 
Avastcd and her blood flowed more rapidly, she said, " I 
shall be better to-morrow." There was no one at Trebyto 
advise or assist her. Slie was not one of those who make 
friends and intimates of all who fall in their way. She 
was gentle, considerate, courteous — but her refined mind 
shrunk from displaying its deep wounds to the vulgar and 
unfeeling. 

After her husband's death she had written several letters, 
which she carefully piit into the postoffice herself — going 
on purpose to the nearest post-town, three miles distant. 
Slie had received one in answer, and it had the effect of in- 
creasing eveiy fatal symptom, through the anguish and ex- 
cesf^ve agitation it excited. Sometimes she talked of leav- 
ing Treby, but she delayed till she should be better ; which 
time, the villagers plainly saw, would never come, but they 
were not aware how awfully near the crisis really was. 

One morning — her husband had now been dead about four' 
months — she called up the woman of the house in which she 
lodged ; there was a smile on her face, and a pink spot burnt 
brightly in either cheek, while her brow was ashy pale ; 
there was something ghastly in the very gladness her coun- 
tenance expressed ; yet she felt nothing of all this, but said, 
*' The newspaper you lent me had good news in it, Mrs. Ba- 
ker. It tells me that a dear friend of mine is arrived in Eng- 
land, whom I thought still on the Continent. I am going to 
write to !ier. Will you let your daughter take my little girl 
a walk while I write T" 

Mrs. Baker consented. The child was equipped and sent 
out, wliile her mother sat down to write. In about an hour 
she came out of her parlour ; Mrs. Baker saw her going to- 
Avards the garden ; she tottered as she walked, so the 
woman hastened to her. " Tliank you," she said ; " I feel 
strangely friint — I had much to say, and that letter has un- 
hinged me — I must finish it to-morrow — now the air will re- 
store me — I can scarcely breathe." 

Mrs. Baker off'ered her arm. The sufferer Avalked faintly 
and feebly to a little bench, and sitting down, supported her- 
self by her companion. Her breath grew shorter ; she mur- 
mured some words ; Mrs. Baker bent down, but could catch 
only the name of her child, which was the last sound that 
hovered on the mother's lips. With one sigh her heart 
ceased to beat, and life left her exhausted frame. The poor 
woman screamed loudly for help as she felt her press heav- 
ily against her ; and then, sliding from her seat, sink lifeless 
on the grouitd. 



10 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER II. 



It was to Mrs. Baker's credit that she did not attempt to 
investigate the affairs of her hapless lodger till after the fu- 
neral. A purse, containing twelve guineas, which she found 
on her table, served, indeed, to satisfy her that she would 
be no immediate loser. However, as soon as tlie sod cov- 
ered the gentle form of the unfortunate lady, she proceeded 
to examine her papers. The first that presented itself was 
the unfinished letter which Mrs. Raby was engaged in wri- 
ting at the time of her death. This promised information, 
and Mrs. Baker read it with eagerness. It was as fol- 
lows : — 

" My dearest Friend, 

" A newspaper has just informed me that you are returned 
to England, while 1 still believed you to be, I know not where, 
on the Continent. Dearest girl, it is long since I have written, 
for I have been too sad, too uncertain about your movements, 
and too unwilling to cloud your happiness, by forcing you to 
remember one so miserable. My beloved friend, my school- 
fellow, my benefactress ; you will grieve to hear of my mis- 
fortunes, and it is selfish in me, even now, to intrude upon 
you with the tale ; but, under heaven, I have no hope, ex- 
cept in my generous, my warm-hearted Alithea. Perhaps 
you have already heard of my disaster, and are aware that 
death has robbed me of the happiness which, under your 
kind fosterage, I had acquired and enjoyed. He is dead 
who was my all in this world, and but for one tie I should 
bless the day when I might be permitted to rest for ever 
beside him. 

" I often wonder, dear Alithea, at the heedlessness and 
want of foresight with which I entered life. Doomed, 
through poverty and my orphan state, to earn my bread as 
a governess, my entrance on that irksome task was only 
delayed by my visit to you ; then under your dear roof I saw 
and was beloved by Edwin ; and his entreaties, and your en- 
couragement, permitted my trembling heart to dream of — 
to possess happiness. Timidity of character made me shrink 
from my career: diffidence never allowed me to suppose 
that any one would interest themselves enough in me to 
raise the poor trembler from the ground, to shelter and pro- 
feet her; and this kind of despondency rendered Edwin's 
love a new, glorious, and divine joy. Yet, when I thought ' 
of his parents, I trembled — I could not bear to enter a family 
where I was to be regarded as an unwelcome intruder; yet 



FALKNER. 11 

I^dwin was already an outcast — already father and brothers, 
every relation, had disowned him — and he, like I, was alone. 
And you, Alithea, how fondly, how sweetly did you en- 
courage me — making that appear my duty which was the 
fulfilment of my wildest dreams of joy. Surely no being 
ever felt friendship as you have done — sympathizing even in 
the lUAtold secrets of a timid heart — enjoying the happiness 
that you conferred with an ardour few can feel, even for 
themselves. Your transports of dehght when you saw me, 
through your means, blessed, touched me with a gratitude 
that can never die. And do I show this by asking now for 
your pity, and saddening you by my grief 1 Pardon me, 
sweet friend, and do not wonder that this thought has long 
delayed ray letter. 

" We were happy — poor, but content. Poverty was no 
evil to me, and Pxlwin supported every privation as if he 
had never been accustomed to luxury. The spirit that had 
caused him to shake off the shackles his bigoted family 
threw over him, animated him to exertions beyond his 
strength. He had chosen for himself — he wished to prove 
that his choice was good. I do not allude to our marriage, 
but to his desertion of the family religion, and determination 
to follow a career not permitted by the policy of his relations 
to any younger son. He was called to the bar — he toiled 
incessantly — he was ambitious, and his talents gave every 
promise of success. He is gone — gone for ever ! I have 
lost the noblest, wisest friend that ever breathed, the most 
devoted lover, and truest husband that ever blessed woman ! 

" I write incoherently. You know what our hfe in Lon- 
don was — obscure, but happy — the scanty pittance allowed 
him seemed to me amply to sutlice for all our wants ; I 
only then knew of the wants of youth and health, whiciv 
were love and sympathy. I had all this, crowning to the 
brim my cup of life — the birth of our sweet child filled it to 
overflowing. Our dingy lodgings, near the courts of law, 
were a palace to me ; I should have despised myself heartily 
could I have desired anything beyond what I possessed. I 
never did — nor did I fear its loss. I was grateful to Heaven, 
and thus I fancied that I paid the debt of my unmeasured 
prosperity. 

" Can I say what I felt when I marked Edwin's restless 
nights, flushed cheek, and the cough that would not go away I 
these things I dare not dwell upon — my tears overflow — my 
heart beats to bursting — the fatal truth was at last declared ; 
the fatal word, consumption, spoken : change of air was all 
the hope held out — we came here ; the churchyard near 
holds now all earthly that remains of him — would that my 
dust were mingling with his ! 

" Yet I have a child, my Alithea ; and you, who are in- 
comparable as a mother, will feel that I ought not to grieve 



12 FALKNER. 

SO bitterly while this dear angel remains to me. I know, 
indeed, that without her life would at once suspend all its 
functions ; why, then, is it, that while she is with me I am 
not stronger, more heroic 1 for, to keep her with me, I must 
leave the indolpuce of my present life — I must earn the 
bread of both. I should not repine at this — I shall not when 
I am better ; but I am very ill and weak ; and though each 
day I rise, resolving to exert myself, before the morning 
has passed away I lie down exhausted, trembling, and 
faint. 

" When I lost Edwin, I wrote to Mr. Raby, acquainting 
him with the sad intelligence, and asking for a maintenance 
for myself and my child. The family solicitor answered 
my letter; Edwin's conduct had, I was told, estranged his 
family from him ; and they could only regard me as one en- 
couraging his disobedience and apostacy. I had no claim 
on them. If my child were sent to them, and I would prom- 
ise to abstain from all intercourse with her, she should be 
brought up with her cousins, and treated in all respects like 
one of the family. I answered this letter hastily and proudly, 
I declined their barbarous offer, and haughtily, and in few 
words, relinquished every claim on their bounty, declaring 
my intention to support and bring up my child myself. 
This was foolishly done, I fear ; but I cannot regret it, even 
now. 

" I cannot regret the impulse that made me disdain these 
unnatural and cruel relatives, or that led me to take my 
poor orphan to my heart with pride, as being ail my own. 
What had they done to merit such a treasure ! Hoav did 
they show themselves capable of replacing a fond and anx- 
ious mother \ How many blooming girls have they sacri- 
ficed to their peculiar views ! With what careless eyes 
they regard the sweetest emotions of nature ! never shall 
my adored girl be made the victim of that loveless race. 
Do you remember our sweet child ] She was lovely from 
her birth ; and surely, if ever angel assumed an earthly ves- 
ture, it took a form like my darling : her loveliness expresses 
only the beauty of her disposition : so young, yet so full of 
sensibility ; her temper is without a flaw, and her intelli- 
gence transcends her age. You will not laugh at me for 
my maternal enthusiasm, nor will you wonder at it ; her 
endearing caresses, her cherub smiles, the silver accents of 
her infantine voice, fill me with trembling rapture. Is she 
not too good for this bad world I I fear it, I fear to lose 
her ; I fear to die and to leave her ; yet, if I should, will you 
not cherish, will you not be a mother to her ! I may be pre- 
sumptuous ; but if I were to die even now, I should die in the 
belief that I left my child another mother in you — " 

The letter broke off here, and these were the last words 



FALKNER. 13 

of the unfortunate writer. It contained a sad, but too coni- 
nion story of the hard-heartedness of the wealthy, and the 
misery endured by the children of the high-born. Blood is 
not water, it is said, but gold with them is dearer far than the 
ties of nature ; to keep and augment their possessions being 
the aim and end of their lives, the existence, and, more es- 
pecially, the happiness of their children, appears to them a 
consideration at once trivial and impertinent, when it would 
compete with family views and family greatness. To this 
common and iniquitous feeling these luckless beings were 
sacrificed ; they had endured the worst, and could be injured 
no more ; but their orphan child was a living victim, less 
thought of than the progeny of the meanest animal which 
might serve to augment their possessions. 

Mrs. Baker felt some complacency on reading this letter: 
with the common English respect for wealth and rank, she 
was glad to find that her humble roof had sheltered a man 
who was the son — she did not exacitly know of whom, but 
of somebody, who had younger sons and elder sons, and 
possessed, through wealth, the power of behaving frightful- 
ly ill to a vast number of persons. There was a grandeur 
and dignity in the very idea ; but the good woman felt less 
satisfaction as she proceeded in her operations — no other 
letter or paper appeared to inform or to direct, f^very let- 
ter had been destroyed, and the young pair had brought 
no papers or documents with them. She could not guess 
to whom the unfinished letter she held was addressed ; all 
was darkness and ignorance. She was aghast — there was 
none to whom to apply — none to whoui to send the orphan. 
In a more busy part of the world, an advertisement in the 
newspapers would have presented itself as a resource ; but 
Treby was too much cut off from the rest of the world for 
its inhabitants to conceive so daring an idea ; and Mrs. Ba- 
ker, repining much at the burden fallen upon her, and fear- 
ful of the future, could imagine no means by which to dis- 
cover the relations of the little orphan ; and her only no- 
tion was to wait, in hopes that some among them would at 
last make inquiries concerning her. 

Nearly a year had passed away, and no one had appeared. 
The unfortunate lady's purse was soon emptied — and her 
watch, with one or two trinkets of slight value, disposed 
of. The child was of small cost, but still her sordid pro- 
tectress harped perpetually on her ill luck : she had a fam- 
ily of her own, and plenty of mouths to feed. Missy was 
but little, but she would get bigger — though for that matter 
it was worse now, as she wanted more taking care of — be- 
sides, she was getting quite a disgrace — her bonnet was so 
shabby, and her shoes worn out — and how could she afford 
to buy others for one who was not a bit of her flesh and 
blood, to the evident hurt of her own children \ It was 
3 



14 FALKNER. 

bad enough now ; but, by-and-by, she saw nothing but the 
parish ; though Missy was born for better than that, and 
her poor mamma would turn in her grave at the name of 
such a thing. For her part, she was to blame, she feared, 
and too generous — but she would wait yet a little longer 
before it came to that — for who could tell — and here Mrs. 
Baker's prudence dammed up the stream of her eloquence 
— to no living ear did she dare trust her dream of the coach 
and six that might one day come for her little charge — and 
the remuneration and presents that would be heaped upon 
her ; she actually saved the child's best frock, though she 
had quite outgrown it, that on such a day her appearance 
might do her honour. But this was a secret — she hid these 
vague but splendid images deep in her heart, lest some 
neighbour might be seized with a noble emulation — and, 
through some artifice, share in her dreamy gains. It was 
these anticipations that prevented Mrs. Baker from taking 
any decisive step injurious to her charge — but they did not 
shed any rosy hues over her diurnal complaints — they grew 
more peevish and frequent as time passed away, and her 
visions attained no realization. 

The little orphan grew, meanwhile, as a garden rose that 
accident has thrown amid briers and weeds — blooming with 
alien beauty, and unfolding its soft petals — and shedding its 
ambrosial odour beneath the airs of heaven, unharmed by 
its strange position. Lovely as a day of paradise, which, 
by some strange chance, visits this nether world to gladden 
every heart, she charmed even her selfish protectress ; and, 
despite her shabby attire, her cherub smiles — the free and 
noble steps which her tiny feet could take even now, and 
the music of her voice, rendered her the object of respect 
and admiration, as well as love, to the whole village. 

The loss of her father had acquainted the poor child with 
death. Her mother had explained the awful mystery as 
well as she could to her infantine intellects, and, indulging 
in her own womanish and tender fancies, had often spoken 
of the dead as hovering over and watching around his loved 
ones, even in the new state of existence to which he had 
been called. Yet she wept as she spoke : " He is happy," 
she exclaimed, " but he is not here ! Why did he leave us 1 
Ah, why desert those who loved him so well, who need him 
so dearly ! How forlorn and cast away are we without 
him !" 

These scenes made a deep impression upon the sensitive 
child — and when her mother died too, and was carried 
away and placed in the cold earth beside her husband, the 
orphan would sit for hours by the graves, now fancying that 
her mother must soon return, now exclaiming, " Why are 
you gone away ^ Come, dear mamma, come back — come 
tjuickly !" Young as she was, it was no wonder that such 



PALKNER. 15 

thoughts were familiar to her. The minds of children are 
often as intelligent as those of persons of niaturer age — and 
differ only by containing fewer ideas — but these had so 
often been presented to her — and she so fixed her little 
heart on the idea that her mother was watching over her, 
that at last it became a part of her religion to visit, every 
evening, the two graves, and saying her prayers near them, 
to believe that her mother's spirit, which was obscurely 
associated with her mortal remains reposing below, listened 
to and blessed her on that spot. 

At other times, neglected as she was, and left to wander 
at will, she conned her lesson, as she had been accustomed 
at her mother's feet, beside her grave. She took her pic- 
ture-books there, and even her playthings. The villagers 
were affected by her childish notion of being " with mamma ;" 
and Missy became something of an angel in their eyes, so 
that no one interfered with her visits, or tried to explaiil 
away her fancies. She was the nursling of love and na- 
ture : but the human hearts which could have felt the great- 
est tenderness for her beat no longer, and had become 
clods of the soil — 

" Borne round in earth's diurnal course 
With rocks, and stones, and trees." 

There was no knee on which she could playfully climb — 
no neck round which she could fondly hang — no parent's 
cheek on which to print her happy kisses — these two graves 
were all of relationship she knew upon the earth — and she 
would kiss the ground and the flowers, not one of which 
she plucked — as she sat embracing the sod. " Mamma" 
was everywhere around. " Mamma" was there beneath, 
and still she could love and feel herself beloved. 

At other times she played gayly with her young compan- 
ions in the village — and sometimes she fancied that she 
loved some one among them — she made them presents of 
books and toys, the relics of happier days ; for the desire 
to benefit, which springs up so naturally in a loving heart, 
was strong within her, even in that early age. But she 
nevA- took any one with her in her churchyard visits — she 
needed none while she was with mamma. Once, indeed, a 
favourite kitten was carried to the sacred spot, and the lit- 
tle animal played amid the grass and flowers, and the child 
joined in its frolics — her solitary gay laugh might be heard 
among the tombs — she did not think it solitary ; mamma 
was there to smile on her, as she sported with her tiny 
favourite, 



16 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER III. 



Towards the end of a hot, calm day of June, a stranger 
arrived at Treby. The variations of cahn and wind are al- 
ways remarkable at the seaside, and are more particularly 
to be noticed on this occasion ; since it was the stillness of 
the elements that caused the arrival of the stranger. During 
the whole day several vessels had been observed in the of- 
fing, lying to for a wind, or making small way under press 
of sail. As evening came on, the water beyond the bay lay 
calmer than ever ; but a slight breeze blew from shore, and 
these vessels, principally colliers," bore down close under it, 
endeavouring by short tacks to procure a long one, and at 
last to gain searoom to make the eastern headland of the 
bay. The fishermen on shore watched the manopuvres of 
the different craft ; and even interchanged shouts with the 
sailors, as they lay lazily on the beach. At length they 
were put in motion by a hail for a boat from a small mer- 
chantman — the call was obeyed — the boat neared the vessel 
— a gentleman descended into it — his portmanteau was 
handed after him — a few strokes of the oar drove the boat 
on the beach, and the stranger leaped out upon the sands. 

The new comer gave a brief order, directing his slight lug- 
gage to be carried to the best inn, and, paying the boatmen 
liberally, strolled away to a more solitary part of tlie beach. 
" A gentleman," all the spectators decided him to be — and 
such a designation served for a full description of the new 
arrival to the villagers of Treby. But it were better to say 
a few words to draw him from among a vast multitude who 
might be similarly named, and to bestow individuality on 
the person in question. It would be best so to present his 
appearance and manner to the " mind's eye" of the reader, 
that if any met him by chance, he might exclaim, " That is 
the man !" Yet there is no task more diflicult than to con- 
vey to another, by mere words, an image, however distinctly 
it is impressed on our own minds. The individual expres- 
sion and peculiar traits wliicli cause a man to be recog- 
nised among ten thousand of his fellow-men, by one who 
has known liini, tliough so palpable to the eye, escape when 
we would find words whereby to delineate them. 

There was something in the stranger that at once arrested 
attention — a freedom, and a command of manner — self-pos- 
session joined to energy. It might be diflicult to guess his 
age, for liis face liad been exposed to the bronzing influence 
of a tropical climate, and the smoothness of youth was ex- 
changed for the deeper lines of maturity, without anythiiig 



FALKNER. 17 

being as yet taken from the vigour of the limbs, or the per- 
fection of those portions of the frame and face, wliich so 
soon show marks of decay. He might have reached the 
verge of thirty, but he could not be older — and might be 
younger. His figure was active, sinewy, and strong — up- 
right as a soldier (indeed, a military air was diffused all over 
his person) ; he was tall, and, to a certain degree, handsome ; 
his dark gray eyes were piercing as an eagle 's, and his fore- 
head high and expansive, though somewhat distorted by vari- 
ous lines that spoke more of passion than thought ; yet his face 
was eminently intelligent ; his mouth, rather too large in its 
proportions, yet grew into beauty when he smiled — indeed, 
the remarkable trait of his physiognomy was its great varia- 
tion — restless, and even fierce ; the expression was often that 
of passionate and unquiet thoughts ; while at other times it 
was almost bland from the apparent smoothness and grace- 
ful undulation of the hues. It was singular, that when com- 
muning only with himself, storms appeared to shake his 
muscles and disfigure the harmony of his countenance — 
and that, when he addressed others, all was composed — full 
of meaning, and yet of repose. His complexion, naturally 
of an olive tint, had grown red and adust under the influ- 
ence of climate — and often flushed from the inroads of ve- 
hement feeling. You could not doubt at the instant of seeing 
him, that many singular, perhaps tragical, incidents were at- 
tai bed to his history — but conviction was enforced that he 
reversed the line of Shakspeare, and was less sinned against 
than sinning — or, at least, that he had been the active mach- 
inator of his fate, not the passive recipient of disappointment 
and sorrow. When he believed himself to be unobserved, 
his face worked with a thousand contending emotions, fiery 
glances shot from his eyes — he appeared to wince from sud- 
den anguish — to be transported by a rage that changed his 
beauty into utter deformity : was he spoken to, all these to- 
kens vanished on the instant — dignified, calm, and even 
courteous ; though cold, he would persuade those whom he 
addressed that he was one of themselves — and not a being 
transported by his own passions and actions into a sphere 
which every other human being would have trembled to ap- 
proach. A superficial observer had pronounced him a good 
fellow, though a little too stately — a wise man had been 
pleased by the intelligence and information he displayed — 
the variety of his powers, and the ease with which he 
brought forward the stores of his intellect to enlighten any 
topic of discourse. An independent and a gallant spirit he 
surely had — what, then, had touched it with destruction — 
shaken it to ruin, and made him, while yet so young, abhor- 
rent ev-en to himself? 

Such is an outline of the stranger of Treby ; and his ac- 
tions were in conformity with the i\\ ongruities of his ap- 



18 FALKNER 

pearance — outwardly unemployed and tranquil ; inwardly 
torn by throes of the most tempestuous and agonizing feel- 
ings. After landing he had strolled away, and was soon 
out of sight ; nor did he return till night, when he looked 
fatigued and depressed. For form's sake — or for the sake 
of the bill at the inn — he allowed food to be placed before 
him ; but he neither ate nor drank — soon he hurried to the 
solitude of his chamber — not to bed — he paced the room 
for some hours ; but as soon as all was still — when his 
watch and the quiet stars told him that it was midnight, he 
left the house — he wandered down to the beach — he threw 
himself upon the sands — and then again he started up and 
strode along the verge of the tide — and then sitting down, 
covering his face with his hands, remained motionless : 
early dawn found him thus — but, on the first appearance of 
a fisherman, he left the neighbourhood of the village, nor re- 
turned till the afternoon — and now, when food was placed 
before him, he ate like one half famished ; but after the 
keen sensation of extreme hunger was satisfied, he left the 
table and retired to his own room. 

Taking a case of pistols from his portmanteau, he ex- 
amined the weapons with care, and, putting tliem in his 
pocket, walked out upon the sands. The sun was fast de- 
scending in the sky, and he looked, with varying glances, 
at it and at the blue sea, which slumbered peacefully, giv- 
ing forth scarcely any sound as it receded from the shore. 
Now he seemed wistful — now impatient — now struck by 
bitterer pangs, that caused drops of agony to gather on his 
brow. He spoke no word ; but these were the thoughts 
that hovered, though unexpressed, upon his lips : " Another 
day ! Another sun ! Oh, never, never more for me shall 
day or sun exist. Coward ! Why fear to die \ And do I 
fear ■? No ! no ! I fear nothing but this pain — this unutter- 
able anguish — this image of fell despair ! If I could feel 
secure that memory Avould cease Avhen my brain lies scat- 
tered on the earth, I should again feel joy before I die. 
Yet that is false. While I live, and memory lives, and the 
knowledge of my crime still creeps through every particle 
of my frame, I have a hell around me, even to the last pul- 
sation ! For ever and for ever I see her, lost and dead at 
my feet — I the cause — the murderer ! My death shall 
atone. And yet even in death the curse is on me — I can- 
not give back the breath of life to her sweet pale lips ! Oh 
fool ! Oh villain ! Haste to tlie last act ; linger no more, 
2est you grow mad, and fetters and stripes become your 
fitter punishment than the death you covet !"' 

"Yet" — after a pause, his thoughts thus continued: — 
" not here, nor now : there must be darkness on the earth 
before the deed is done ! Hasten and hide thyself, oh sun! 



FALKNER. 19 

Thou wilt never be cursed by tlie siglit of my living form 
again !" 

Thus did the transport of passion embrace the universe 
in its grasp ; and the very sunlight seemed to have a pulse 
responsive to his own. The bright orb sunk lower; and 
the little western promontor}^ with its crowning spire, was 
thrown into bold relief against the glowing sky. As if some 
new idea were awakened, the stranger proceeded along the 
sands, towards the extremity of the headland. A short 
time before, unobserved by him, the little orphan had 
tripped along, and, scaling the cliff, had seated herself, as 
usual, beside her mother's grave. 

The stranger proceeded slowly, and with irregular steps. 
He was waiting till darkness should blind the eyes of day, 
which now appeared to gaze on him with intolerable scru- 
tiny, and to read his very soul, that sickened and writhed 
M'ith its burden of sin and sorrow. When out of the im- 
mediate neighbourhood of the village, he threw himself 
upon a fragment of rock, and — he could not be said to 
meditate — for that supposes some sort of voluntary action 
of the mind — while to him might be applied the figure of 
the poet, who represented himself as hunted by his own 
thoughts — pursued by memory, and torn to pieces, as Ac- 
taeon by his own hounds. A troop of horrid recollections 
assailed his soul ! there was no shelter, no escape ! various 
passions, by turns, fastened themselves upon him — jeal- 
ousy, disappointed love, rage, fear, and, last and worst, re- 
morse and despair. No bodily torture, invented by re-' 
vengeful tyrant, could produce agony equal to that which 
he had worked out for his own mind. His better nature, 
and the powers of his intellect, served but to sharpen 
and strike deeper the pangs of unavailing regret. Fool ! 
He had foreseen nothing of all this ! He had fancied that 
he could bend the course of fate to his own will ; and that 
to desire with energy was to ensure success. And to Avhat 
had the immutable resolve to accomplish his ends brought 
him'] She was dead — the loveliest and best of created 
beings : torn from the affections and the pleasures of life ! 
from her home, her child ! He had seen her stretched dead 
at his feet : he had heaped the earth upon her cla5^-cold 
form ; and he the cause ! he the murderer ! 

Stung to intolerable anguish by these ideas, he felt hasti- 
ly for his pistols, and rising, pursued his way. Evening 
was closing in ; yet he could distinguish the winding path 
of the cliff: he ascended, opened the little gate, and entered 
the churchyard. Oh! how he envied the dead I — the guilt- 
less dead, who had closed their eyes on this mortal scene, 
surrounded by weeping friends, cheered by reliu^ious hope. 
All that imaged innocence and repose appeared in his eyes 
so beautiful and desirable : and how could ho, the criminal, 



20 FALKNER. 

hope to rest like one of these 1 A star or two came out in 
the heavens above, and the church spire seemed almost to 
reach them, as it pointed upward. The dim, silent sea was 
spread beneath : the dead slept around : scarcely did the 
tall grass bend its head to the summer air. Soft, balmy peace 
possessed the scene. With what thrilling sensations of self- 
enjoyment and gratitude to the Creator, might the mind at 
ease drink in the tranquil loveliness of such an hour. The 
stranger felt every nerve wakened to fresh anguish. His 
brow contracted convulsively. " Shall I ever die !" he 
cried ; " will not the dead reject me !" 

He looked round with the natural instinct that leads a 
human being, at the moment of dissolution, to withdraw 
into a cave or corner, where least to offend the eyes of the 
living by the loathsome form of death. The ivied wall and 
paling, overhung by trees, formed a nook, whose shadow at 
that hour was becoming deep. He approached the spot ; 
for a moment he stood looking afar : he knew not at what ;" 
and drew forth his pistol, cocked it, and throwing himself on 
the grassy mound, raised the mouth of the fatal instrument 
to his forehead. "Oh, go away! go away from mamma!" 
were words that might have met his ear, but that every 
sense was absorbed. As he drew the trigger, his arm was 
pulled ; the ball whizzed harmlessly by his ear : but the 
shock of the sound, the unconsciousness that he had been 
touched at that moment — the belief that the mortal wound 
was given, made him fall back; and, as he himself said 
afterward, he fancied that he had uttered the scream he 
heard, which had, indeed, proceeded from other lips. 

In a few seconds he recovered himself. Yet so had he 
worked up his mind to die ; so impossible did it appear that 
his aim should fail him, that in those few seconds the earth 
and all belonging to it had passed away — and his first ex- 
clamation, as he started up, was, " Where am I ■?" Some- 
thing caught his gaze.; a httle white figure, which lay but a 
few paces distant, and two eyes that gleamed on him — the 
horrible thought darted into "his head — had another instead 
of himself been the victim? and he exclaimed in agony, 
" Gracious God ! who are you ?— speak ! What have I 
done !" Still more was he horror-struck when he saw that 
it was a little child who lay before him — he raised her— but 
her eyes had glared with terror, not death; she did not 
speak; but she was not wounded, and he endeavoured to 
comfort and reassure her, till she, a little restored, began 
to cry bitterly, and he felt, thankfully, that her tears were a 
pledge that the worst consequences of her fright had passed 
away. He hfted her from the groimd, while she, in the 
midst of her tears, tried to get him away from the grave he 
desecrated. The twilight scarcely showed her features; 
but her surpassing fairness— her lovely countenance and 



FALKNER. 21 

silken hair, so betokened a child of love and care, that he 
was more the surprised to find her alone, at that hour, in the 
solitary churchyard. 

He soothed her gently, and asked, " How came you here ? 
what could you be doing so late so far from home ?" 

"I came to see mamma." 

" To see mamma ! Where ? how ? Your mother is not 
here." 

" Yes she is ; mamma is there ;" and she pointed with 
her little finger lo the grave. 

The stranger started up — there was something awful in 
this childish simplicity and affection : he tried to read the 
inscription on the stone near — he could just make out the 
name of Edwin Raby. " That is not your mother's grave," 
he said. 

" No ; papa is there — mamma is here, next to him." 

The man. just bent on self-destruction, with a conscience 
burning him to the heart's core — all concentrated in the om- 
nipotence of his own sensations — shuddered at the tale of 
dereliction and misery these words conveyed ; he looked 
eaj-nestly on the child, and was fascinated by her angel look ; 
she spoke with a pretty seriousness, shaking her head, her 
lips trembling — her large eyes shining in brimming tears, 
" My poor child," he said, " your name is Raby then ?" 
-^ .-"- Mamma used to call me Baby," she replied ; " they call 
me Missy at home — my name is Elizabeth." 

" Well, dear Elizabeth, let me take you home ; you can- 
not stay all night with mamma." 

"Oh, no; I was just going home when you frightened 
me." 

" You must forget that ; I will buy you a doll to make it 
up again, and all sorts of toys ; see, here is a pretty thing 
for you !" and he took the chain of his watch, and threw it 
over her head ; he wanted so to distract her attention as to 
make her forget what had passed, and not to tell a shocking 
story when she got home. 

" But," she said, looking up into his face, " you will not 
be so naughty again, and sit down wliere mamma is lying." 

The stranger promised, and kissed her ; and, taking her 
hand, they walked together to the village ; she prattled as 
she went, and he sometimes listened to her stories of mam- 
ma, and answered, and sometimes thought with Avonder that 
he still lived — that the ocean's tide still broke at his feet — 
and the stars still shone above ; he felt angry and impatient 
at the delay, as if it betokened a failing of pui-pose. They 
walked along the sands, and stopped at last at Mrs. Baker's 
door. She was standing at it, and exclaimed, " Here you 
are. Missy, at la.st ! What have you been doing with your- 
self ? I declare I was quite frightened — it is long past your 
bedtime." 



22 FALKNEir. 

" You must not scold her," said the stranger ; " I detained 
her. But why do you let her go out alone ! it is not right." 

" Lord, sir," she replied, " there is none hereabouts to do 
her a harm — and she would not thank me if I kept her from 
going to see her mamma, as she calls it. I have no one to 
spare to go with her ; it's hard enough on me to keep her 
on charity, as I do. But" — and her voice changed as a 
thought flashed across her — " I beg your pardon, sir, per- 
haps you come for Missy, and know all about her. I am 
sure I have done all I can ; it's a long time since her mam- 
ma died ; and, but for me, she must have gone to the par- 
ish. I hope you will judge that I have done my duty to- 
. wards her." 

" You mistake," said the stranger ; " I know nothing of 
this young lady, nor of her parents, who, it would seem, are 
both dead. Of course she has other relations !" 

" That she has, and rich ones too," replied Mrs. Baker, 
"if one could but find them out. It's hard upon me, who 
am a widow woman, with four children of my own, to have 
other people's upon me — very hard, sir, as you must allow ; 
and often 1 think that I cannot answer it to myself, taking 
the bread from my own children and grandchildren, to feed 
a stranger. But, to be sure, Missy has rich relations, and 
some day they will inquire for her ; though come the tenth 
of next August, and it's a year since her mother died, and 
no one has come to ask good or bad about her, or Missy." 

" Her father died also in this village ?" asked the stranger. 

" True enough," said the woman ; " both father and 
mother died in this very house, and lie up in the churchyard 
yonder. Come, Missy, don't cry ; that's an old story now, 
and it's no use fretting." 

The poor child, who had hitherto listened in simple igno- 
rance, began to sob at this mention of her parents ; and the 
stranger, shocked by the woman's imfeelmg tone, said, " 1 
should like to hear more of this sad story. Pray let the 
poor dear child be put to bed, and then, if you will relate 
what you know of her parents, I dare say I can give you 
some advice to enable you to discover her relations, and re 
lieve you from the burden of her maintenance." 

" These are the first comfortable words I have heard a 
long time," said Mrs. Baker. " Come, Missy, Nancy shall 
put you to bed ; it's far past your hour. Don't cry, dear ; 
this kind gentleman will take you along with him, to a fine 
house, among grand folks, and all our troubles will be over. 
Be pleased, sir, to step into the parlour, and I will show you 
a letter of the lady, and tell yon all I know. I dare say, if 
you are going to London, you will find out that Missy ought 
to be riding in her coach at this very moment." 

This was a golden idea of Mrs. Baker, and, in truth, went 
a little beyond her anticipations ; but she had got tired of 



FALKNER. 23 

her first dreams of greatness, and feared that, in sad truth, 
the little orphan's relations would entirely disown her; but 
it struck her that, if she could persuade this strange gentle- 
man that all she said was true, he might be induced to take 
the little girl with him when he went away, and undertake 
the task of restoring her to her father's family, by which 
means she at least would be released from all further care 
on her account : — " Upon this hint she spake." 

She related how Mr. and Mrs. Raby had arrived with 
their almost infant child — death already streaked the brow 
of the dying man ; each day threatened to be his last ; yet 
he lived on. His sufferings were great; and night and day 
his wife was at his side, waiting on him, watching each turn 
of his eye, each change of complexion or of pulse. They 
were poor, and had only one servant, hired at the village 
soon after their arrival, when Mrs. Raby found herself una- 
ble to bestow adequate attention on both husband and child ; 
yet she did so much as evidently to cause her to sink be- 
neath her too great exertions. She was delicate and fragile 
in appearance ; but she never owned to being fatigued, or 
relaxed in her attentions. Her voice was always attuned 
to cheerfulness, her eyes beaming with tenderness : she, 
doubtless, wept in secret ; but when conversing with her 
husband, or playing with her child, a natural vivacity ani- 
mated her, that looked like hope ; indeed, it was certain 
that, in spite of every fatal symptom, she did not wholly 
despair. When her husband declared himself better, and 
resumed for a day his task of instructer to his little girl, she 
believed that his disorder had taken a favourable turn, and 
would say, " Oh, Mrs. Baker, please God, he is really bet- 
ter ; doctors are not infallible ; he may live !" And as she 
spoke, her eyes swam in tears, while a smile lay like a sun- 
beam on her features. She did not sink till her husband 
died, and even then struggled, both with her grief and the 
wasting malady already at work within her, with a fortitude 
a mother only could practise ; for all her exertions were for 
her dear child ; and she could smile on her, a wintry smile 
— yet sweet as if warmed by seraphic faith and love. She 
lingered thus, hovering on the very limits of life and death; 
her heart warm and affectionate, and hoping, and full of fire 
to the end. for her child's sake, while she herself pined for 
the freedom of the grave, and to soar from the cares and 
sorrows of a sordid world, to the heaven already open to 
receive her. In homely phrase, Mrs. Baker dwelt upon 
this touching mixture of maternal tenderness and soft lan- 
guor, that would not mourn for him she was so soon to join. 
The woman then described her sudden death, and placed 
the fragment of her last letter before her auditor. 

Deeply interested, tho stranger began to read, when sud- 



24 FALKNER. 

(leiily he became ghastly pale, and, trembling all over, he 
asked, " To whom was this letter addressed 1" 

" Ah, sir," replied Mrs. Baker, " would that I could tell, 
and all my troubles would be over. Read on, sir, and you 
will see that Mrs. Raby feels sure tliat the lady would have 
been a mother to poor Missy ; but who, or where she is, is 
past all my guessing." 

The stranger strove to read on ; but violent emotion, and 
the struggle to hide what he felt, hindered him from taking 
in the meaning of a single word. At length he told Mrs. 
Baker that, with her leave, he would take the letter away, 
and read it at his leisure. He promised her his aid in dis- 
covering Mrs. Raby's relatives, and assured her that there 
would be small difficulty in so doing. He then retired, and 
Mrs. Baker exclaimed, " Please God, this will prove a good 
day's work." 

A voice from the grave had spoken to the stranger. It 
was not the dead mother's voice — she, whatever her merits 
and buffi -rings had been, was to him an image of the mind only 
— he had never known her. But her benefactress, her hope 
and trust, who and where was she ? Alithea ! the warm- 
hearted friend — the incomparable mother ! She to whom 
all hearts in distress turned, sure of relief— who went be- 
fore the desires of the necessitous ; whose generous and 
free spirit made her emperess of all hearts ; who, v/hile she 
lived, spread, as does the sun, radiance and warmth around 
— her pulses were stilled; her powers cribbed up in the 
grave. She was nothing now ; and he had reduced to this 
nothing the living frame of this glorious being. 

The stranger read the letter again and again; again he 
writhed, as her namf^ appeared, traced by her mend's cieli- 
cate hand, and the concluding hope seemed the acme of his 
despair. She would indeed have been a mother to the or- 
phan — he remembered expressions thnt told him that she 
was miking diligent inquiry for her friend, whose luckless 
fate hadnot reached her. Yes, it was his Alithea ; he could 
not doubt. His ] Fatal mistake — his she had never been ; 
and the wild resolve to make her such had ended in death 
and ruin. 

The stranger had taken the letter to his inn — but any roof 
seemed to imprison and oppress him — again he sought re- 
lief in the open air, and wandered far along the sands, with 
the speed of a misery that strove to escape from itself. 
The wliole night he spent thus — sometimes climbing the 
jagged cliffs, then descending to the beach, and throwing 
himself his length upon the sands. The tide ebbed and 
flowed — the roar of ocean filled the lone night with sound — 
the owl flapped down from its iiome in the rock, and hooted. 
Hour after hour passed — and, driven by a thousand thoughts 
—tormented by the direst pangs of memory — still the strau- 



FALKNER. 25 

ger hurried along the winding shores. Morning found liim 
many miles from Treby. He did not stop till the appear- 
ance of another village put a limit to solitude, and he re- 
turned upon his steps. 

Those who could guess his crime, could alone divine the 
combat of life and death waging in his heart. He had, 
through accident and forgetfulness, left his pistols on the 
table of his chamber at the inn, or, in some of the wildest 
of the paroxysms of despair, they had ended all. To die, 
he fondly hoped, was to destroy memory and to defeat re- 
morse ; and yet there arose within his mind that feeling, 
mysterious and inexplicable to common reason, which gen- 
erates a desire to expiate and to atone. Should he be the 
cause of good to the friendless orphan, bequeathed so vainly 
to his victim, would not that, in some sort, compensate for 
his crime ] Would it not double it to have destroyed her, 
and also the good of which she would have been the author 1 
The very finger of God pointed to this act, since the child's 
little hand had arrested his arm at the fatal moment when 
he believed that no interval of a second's duration inter- 
vened between him and the grave. Then, to aid those dim 
religious misgivings, came the manly wish to protect the 
oppressed and assist the helpless. The struggle was long 
and terrible. Now he made up his mind that it was cow- 
ardice to postpone his resolve — that to live was to stamp 
himself poltron and traitor. And now again, he felt that 
the true cowardice was to die — to fly from the consequences 
of his actions, and the burden of existence. He gazed upon 
the dim waste of waters, as if from its misty skirt some 
vision would arise to guide or to command. He cast his 
eyes upward to interrogate the silent stars — the roaring of 
the tide appeared to assume an inorganic voice, and to mur- 
mur hoarsely, " Live ! miserable wretch ! Dare you hope 
for the repose which your victim enjoys 1 Know that the 
guilty are unworthy to die — that is the reward of iimo- 
cence !" 

The cool air of morning chilled his brow, and the broad 
sun arose from the eastern sea, as, pale and haggard, he 
retrod many a weary step towards Treby. He was faint 
and weary. He had resolved to live yet a httle longer — till 
he had fulfilled some portion of his duly towards the lovely 
orphan. So resolving, he felt as if he paid a part of the pen- 
alty due. A soothing feeling, which resembled repentance, 
stole over his heart, already rewarding him. How swiftly 
and audibly does the inner voice of our nature speak, telling 
us when we do right. Besides, he believed that to live was 
to suffer ; to live, therefore, was in him a virtue ; and the 
exultation, the balmy intoxication which always follows our 
first attempt to execute a virtuous resolve, crept over him, 
and elevated his spirits, though body and soul were alike 
3 B 



26 PALKNER. 

weary. Arriving at Treby, he sought his bed. He slept 
peacefully ; and it was the first slumber he had enjoyed since 
he had torn himself from the spot where she lay, whom he 
had loved so truly, even to the death to which he had 
brought her. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Two days after, the strangei* and the orphan had depart- 
ed for London. When it came to the point of decision, 
Mrs. Baker's conscience began to reproach her ; and she 
doubted the propriety of intrusting her innocent charge to 
one totally unknown. But the stranger satisfied her doubts ; 
he showed her papers betokening his name and station, as 
John Falkner, captain in the native cavalry of the East In- 
dia Company, and moreover possessed of such an indepen- 
dence as looked like wealth in the eyes of Mrs. Baker, and 
at once commanded her respect. 

His own care was to collect every testimony and relic 
that might prove the identity of the little Elizabeth. Her 
unfortunate mother's unfinished letter — her Bible and prayer- 
book — in the first of which was recorded the birth of her 
child — and a seal (which Mrs. Baker's prudence had saved, 
"when her avarice caused her to sell the watch), with Mr. 
Raby's coat of arms and crest engraved — a small desk, 
containing a few immaterial papers, and letters from stran- 
gers, addressed to Edwin Raby — such was Elizabeth's inher- 
itance. In looking over the desk, Mr. Falkner found a lit- 
tle foreign almanac, embellished with prints, and fancifully 
bound — on the first page of which was written, in a wo- 
man's elegant hand, To dearest Isabella— from her A. R. 

Had Falkner wanted proof as to the reality of his suspi- 
cions with regard to the friend of Mrs. Raby, here was 
conviction ; he was about to press the dear handwriting to 
his lips, when, feeling his own unworthiness, he shuddered 
through every limb, and thrusting the book into his bosom, 
he, by a strong effort, prevented every outward mark of the 
thrilling agony which the sight of his victim's writing occa- 
sioned. It gave, at the same time, fresh firmness to his re- 
solve to do all that was requisite to restore tlie orphan 
daughter of her friend to her place in society. She was as 
a bequest, left him by whom he last saw pale and sense- 
less at his feet — who had been tlie dream of his life from 
boyhood, and was now the phantom to haunt him witli 
remorse to his latest hour. To replace the dead to the 
lovely child was impossible. He knew the incomparable 



FALKNER. 27 

virtues of her to whom her mother bequeathed her, while 
every thought that tended to recall her to his memory was 
armed witli a double sting — regret at having lost — horror 
at the fate he had brought upon her. 

By what strange, incalculable, and yet sure enchainment 
of events had he been brought to supply her place ! She 
was dead — through his accursed machinations she no long- 
er formed a portion of the breathing world — how marvel- 
lous that he, flying from memory and conscience, resolved 
to expiate his liaif involuntary guilt by his own death, 
should have landed at Treby ! Still more wondrous were the 
motives — hair slight in appearance, yet on which so vast a 
Aveight of circumstance hung — that led him to the twilight 
churchyard, and had made Mrs. Raby's grave the scene of 
the projected tragedy — which had brought the orphan to 
guard that grave from pollution, caused her to stay his up- 
raised hand, and gained for herself a protector by the very 
act. 

Whoever lias been the victim of a tragic event — who- 
ever has experienced life and hope — the past and the future 
wreckod by one fatal catastrophe, must be at once dis- 
mayed and awestruck to trace the secret agency of a thou- 
sand foregone, disregarded, and trivial events, which all led 
to the deplored end, and served, as it were, as invisible 
m«shes to envelop the victim in the fatal net. Had the 
meanest among these been turned aside, the progress of the 
destroying destiny had been stopped ; but there is no voice 
to cry " Hold !" no prophesying eye to discern the unborn 
event — and the future inherits its whole portion of wo. 

Awed by the mysteries that encompassed and directed 
his steps, which used no agency except the unseen, but not 
unfclt, power which surrounds us with motive as with an 
atmosphere, Falkner yielded his hitherto unbending mind 
to control. He was satisfied to be led, and not to com- 
mand ; his impatient spirit wondered at this new docility, 
while yet he felt some slight self-satisfaction steal over 
him ; and the prospect of being useful to the helpless little 
being who stood before him, weak in all except her irresist- 
ible claim to his aid, imparted such pleasure as he was sur- 
prised to feel. 

Once again he visited the churchyard of Treby, accom- 
panied by the orphan. She was loath to quit the spot — she 
could with difficulty consent to leave mamma. But Mrs. 
Baker had made free use of a grown-up person's much 
abused privilege of deceit, and told her lies in abundance ; 
sometimes promising that she should soon return ; some- 
times assuring her that she would find her mother alive and 
well at the grand place wliithcr she was going : yet, despite • 
the fallacious hopes, she cried and sobbed bitterly during 
her last visits to her parents' graves. Falkner tried to 



28 FALKNER. 

sooth her, saying, " "We must leave papa and mamma, dear- 
est ; God has taken them from 3^011 ; but I will be a new- 
papa to you." 

The child raised her head, which she had buried in his 
breast, and in infantine dialect and accent said, " Will you 
he good to her, and love Baby, as papa did V 

" Yes, dearest child, I promise always to love you : will 
you love me, and call me your papa!" 

" Papa, dear papa," she cried, chnging round his neck — 
" my new, good papa !" And then, whispering in his ear, 
she softly, but seriously, added, "I can't have a new mam- 
ma — I won't have any but my own mamma." 

" No, pretty one," said Falkner, with a sigh, " you will 
never have another mamma ; she is gone who would have 
been a second mother, and you are wholly orphaned." 

An hour after they were on the road to London ; and, 
full of engrossing and torturing thoughts as Falkner was, 
still he was called out of himself, and forced to admire the 
winning ways, the enchanting innocence and loveliness of 
his little charge. We human beings are so unlike one to 
the other, that it is often difficult to make one person un- 
derstand that there is any force in an impulse which is om- 
nipotent with another. Children, to some, are mere ani- 
mals, unendued with instinct, troublesome, and unsightly — 
with others they possess a charm that reaches to the heart's 
core, and stirs the purest and most generous portions of our 
nature. Falkner had always loved children. In the Indian 
wilds, which for many years he had inhabited, the sight of 
^ a young native mother with her babe had moved him to en-, 
vious tears. The fair, fragile offspring of European women, 
with blooming faces and golden hair, had often attracted 
him to bestow kind offices on parents whom otherwise he 
would have disregarded ; the fiery passions of his own heart 
caused him to feel a soothing repose while watching the 
innocent gambols of childhood, while his natural energy, 
which scarcely ever found suflicient scope for exercise, led 
him to delight in protecting the distressed. If the mere 
chance spectacle of infant helplessness was wont to excite 
his sympathy, this sentiment, by the natural Avorkings of 
the human heart, became far more lively when so beautiful 
and perfect a creature as Elizabeth Raby was thrown upon 
his protection. No one could have regarded her unmoved ; 
her silver-toned laugh went to the heart ; her alternately 
serious or gay looks, each emanating from the spirit of love ; 
her caresses, her little words of endearment ; the soft pres- 
sure of her tiny hand and warm rosy lips — were all as 
charming as beauty and the absence of guile could make 
them. And he, the miserable man, was charmed, and pit- 
ied the mother who had been forced to desert so sweet a 
flower — leaving to the bleak elements a blossom which it 



FALKNER. S9 

had been paradise for lier to have cherished and sheltered 
in her own bosom for ever. 

At each moment Falkner became more enchanted with 
his companion. Sometimes they got out of the chaise to 
walk up a hill ; then, taking the child in his arms, he pluck- 
ed flowers for her from the hedges, or she ran on before 
and gathered them for herself — now pulling ineffectually at 
some stubborn parasite — now pricking herself with brier, 
when his help was necessary to assist and make all well 
again. When again in the carriage she climbed on his 
knee and stuck the flowers in his hair, " to make papa fine ;" 
and as trifles aff"ect the mind when rendered sensitive by 
suffering, so was he moved by her trying to remove the 
thorns of the wild roses before she decorated him with 
them ; at other times she twisted them among her own ring- 
lets, and laughed to see herself mirrored in the front glasses 
of the chaise. Sometimes her mood changed, and she prat- 
tled seriously about "mamma." Asked if he did not think 
that she was sorry at Baby's going so far — far away — or, re- 
membering the fanciful talk of her mother when her father 
died, she asked whether she were not following them 
through the air. As evening closed in, she looked out to 
see whether she could not perceive her ; " I cannot hear 
her; she does not speak to me," she said; "perhaps she is 
a long way off", in that tiny star ; but then she can see us — 
Are you there, mamma]" 

Artlessness and beauty are more truly imaged on the can- 
vass than m the written page. Were we to see the lovely 
orphan thus pictured (and Italian artists, and our own Rey- 
nolds, have painted such) with uplifted finger ; her large 
earnest eyes looking inquiringly and tenderly for the shad- 
owy form of her mother, as she might fancy it descending 
towards her from the little star her childish fancy singled 
out, a half smile on her lips, contrasted with the seriousness 
of her baby brow — if we could see such visibly presented 
on the canvass, the world would crowd round to admire. 
This pen but feebly traces the living grace of the httle angel; 
but it was before Falkner; it stirred him to pity first, and 
then to deeper regret : he strained the child to his breast, 
thinking, " Oh, yes, I might have been a better and a happy 
man ! False Ahthea ! why, through your inconstancy, are 
such joys buried for ever in your grave !" 

A few minutes after and the little girl fell asleep, nestled 
in his arms. Her attitude had all the inartificial grace of 
childhood ; her face hushed to repose, yet breathed cf af- 
fection. Falkner turned his eyes from her to the starry 
sky. His heart swelled impatiently — his past life lay as a 
map unrolled before him. He had desired a peaceful hap- 
piness — the happiness of love. His fond aspirations had 
been snakes to destroy others, and to sting his own soul to 
3» 



30 FALKNER. 

torture. He writhed under the consciousness of the re- 
morse and horror M'hich were henceforth to track his path 
of hfe. Yet, even while he shuddered, he felt that a revo- 
lution was operating within himself — he no longer contem- 
plated suicide. That which had so lately appeared a mark 
of courage wore now the guise of cowardice. And yet, if 
he were to live, where and how should his life be passed T 
He recoiled from the solitude of the heart which had marked 
his early years — and yet he felt that he could never more 
link himself in love or friendship to any. 

He looked upon the sleeping child, and began to conjec- 
ture whether he might not find in her the solace he needed. 
Should he not adopt her, mould her heart to affection, teach 
her to lean on him only, be all the w^orld to her, while her 
gentleness and caresses would give life a charm — without 
which it were vain to attempt to endure existence 1 

He reflected what Ehzabeth's probable fate would be if 
he restored her to her father's family. Personal experience 
had given him a horror for the forbidding, ostentatious kind- 
ness of distant relations. That hers resembled such as he 
had known, and were imperious and cold-hearted, their con- 
duct not only to Mrs. Raby, but previously to a meritorious 
son, did not permit him to doubt. If he made the oi-phan 
over to them, their luxuries and station would ill stand in- 
stead of affection and heartfelt kindness. Soft, delicate, 
and fond, she would pine and die. With him, on the con- 
trary, she would be happy — he would devote himself to her 
— every wish gratified — her gentle disposition carefully cul- 
tivated — no rebuke, no harshness ; his arms ever open to 
receive her in grief — his hand to support her in danger. 
Was not this a fate her mother would have preferred ■? In 
bequeathing her to her friend, she showed how little she 
wished that her sweet girl should pass into the hands of her 
husband's relations. Could he not replace that friend of 
whom he had so cruelly robbed her — whose loss was to be 
attributed to him alone ! 

W^e all are apt to think that when we discard a motive 
we cure a fault, and foster the same error from a new cause 
with a safe conscience. Tlius, even now, aching and sore 
from the tortures of remorse for past faults, Falkner in- 
dulged in the same propensity, Avhich, apparently innocent 
in its commencement, had led to fatal results. He medi- 
tated doing rather what he wished than what was strictly 
just. He did not look forward to the evils his own course 
involved, while he saw in disproportionate magnitude those 
to be brought about if he gave up his favourite project. 
What ills might arise to the orphan from his interweaving 
her fate with his — he, a criminal, in act, if not in intention 
—who might be called upon hereafter to answer for his 
deeds, and who at least must fly and hide liimself— of this 



FALENER. 31 

he thought not; while he- determined that, fostered and 
guarded by him, Elizabeth must be happy — and, under the 
tutelage of her relations, she would become the vicliui of 
hardhearted neglect. These ideas floated somewhat indis- 
tinctly in his mind — and it was half unconsciously that he 
was building from them a fabric for tlie future as deceitful 
as it was alluring. 

After several days' travelling, Falkner found himself with 
his young charge in London, and then he began to wonder 
wherefore he had repaired thither, and to consider that he 
must form some settled scheme for the future. He had in 
England neither relation nor friend Avhom he cared for. 
Orphaned at an early age, neglected by those who supported 
him, at least as far as the affections were concerned, he had, 
even in boyliood, known intimately, and loved but one per- 
son only — she who had ruled his fate to this hour — and was 
now among the dead. Sent to India in early youth, he had 
there to make his way in defiance of poverty, of want of 
connexion, of his own overbearing disposition — and the 
sense of wrong early awakened that made him proud and 
reserved. At last, most unexpectedly, the death of several 
relations caused the family estate to devolve upon him — and 
he had sold his commission in India and hastened home — 
with his heart so set upon one object, that he scarcely re- 
flected, or reflected only to congratulate himself, on how 
alone he stood. And now that his impetuosity and ill-regu- 
lated passions had driven the dear object of all his thoughts 
to destruction — still he was glad that there were none to 
question him — none to wonder at his resolves ; to advise or 
to reproach. 

Still a plan was necessary. The very act of his life 
which had been so big with ruin and remorse enjoined some 
forethought. It was probable that he was already sus- 
pected, if not known. Detection and punishment in a shape 
most loathsome would overtake him, did he not shape his 
measures with prudence ; and, as hate as well as love had 
mixed strongly in his motives, he was in no humour to give 
his enemies the triumph of visiting his crime on him. 

What is written in glaring character in our own conscious- 
ness we believe to be visible to the whole world ; and Falkner, 
after arriving in London, after leaving Elizabeth at an hotel, 
and walking into the streets, felt as if discovery was already on 
him, when he was accosted by an acquaintance, who asked 
him where he had been — what he had been doing — andwliv 
he was looking so deusedly ill. He stammered some reply, 
and was hastening away, when his friend, passing his arm 
through his, said, " I must tell you the strangest occurrence 
I ever heard of — I have just parted from a man — do you re- 
member a Mr. Neville, whom you dined with at my house, 
when last in town ?" 



32 FALXNER. 

Falkner at this moment exercised with success the 
wonderful mastery whicli he possessed over feature and 
voice, and coldly replied that he did remember. 

" And do you remember our conversation after he left 
usV said his friend, " and my praises of his wife, whom I 
exalted as the pattern of virtue 1 Who can know woman ! I 
could have bet any sum that she would preserve her good 
name to the end — and she has eloped." 

" Well !" said Falkner, " is that all ] is that the most won- 
derful circumstance ever heard V 

" Had you known Mrs. Neville," replied his companion, 
" you would be as astonished as I : with all her charms — 
all her vivacity — never had the breath of scandal reached 
her — she seemed one of those whose hearts, though warm, 
are proof against the attacks of love ; and with ardent affec- 
tions yet turn away from passion, superior and unharmed. 
Yet she has eloped with a lover — there is no doubt of that 
fact, for he was seen — they were seen going off together, 
and she has not been heard of since." 

" Did Mr. Neville pursue them 1" asked Falkner. 

" He is even now in full pursuit — vowing vengeance — 
more enraged than I ever beheld man. Unfortunately, he 
does not know who the seducer is ; nor have the fugitives 
yet been traced. The whole affair is the most mysterious 
— a lover dropped from the clouds — an angel of virtue sub- 
dued, almost before she is sought. Still they must be found 
out — they cannot hide themselves for ever." 

" And then there will be a duel to the death V asked 
Falkner, in the same icy accents. 

" No," replied the other ; " Mrs. Neville has no brother to 
fight for her, and her husband breathes law only. Whatever 
vengeance the law will afford, that he will use to the utmost 
— he is too angry to fight." 

" The poltron !" exclaimed Falkner ; " and thus he loses 
his sole chance of revenge." 

" I know not that," replied his companion ; " he has formed 
a thousand schemes of chastisement for both offenders, 
more dread than the field of honour — there is, to be 
sure, a mean, as well as an indignant spirit in him, that 
revels rather in the thought of inflicting infamy than death. 
He utters a thousand mysterious threats — I do not see ex- 
actly what he can do — but when he discovers his injurer, as 
he must some day — and I believe there are letters that afford 
a clew — he will wreak all that a savage, and yet a sordid 
desire of vengeance can suggest. Poor Mrs. Neville ! after 
all, she must have lived a sad life with such a fellow !" 

"And here we part," said Falkner; " I am going another 
way. You have told me a strange story — it will be curious 
to mark the end. Farewell !" 

Brave to rashness as Falkner was, yet there was much in 



FALKNER. 33 

what he had just heard that made him recoil, and ahnost 
tremble. What the vengeance was that Mr. Neville could 
take, he too well knew — and he resolved to defeat it. His 
plans, before vague, were formed on the instant. His lip 
curled with a disdainful smile when he recollected what his 
friend had said of the mystery that hung over the late oc- 
currences — he would steep them all in tenfold obscurity. To 
grieve for the past was futile, or rather, nothing he could 
do would prevent or alleviate the piercing regret that tor- 
tured him — but that need not influence his conduct. To 
leave his arch enemy writhing from injury, yet powerless to 
revenge himself — blindly cursing he knew not who, and re- 
moving the object of his curses from all danger of being hurt 
by them, Avas an image not devoid of satisfaction. i\ctiiig 
in conformity with these ideas, the next morning saw him 
on the road to Dover — Elizabeth still his companion, re- 
solved to seek oblivion in foreign countries and far climes — 
and happy, at the same time, to have her with him, whose 
infantine caresses already poured balm upon his rankling 
wounds. 



CHAPTER V. 

Paris was the next, but transient, resting-place of the 
travellers. Here Falkner made such arrangements with re- 
gard to remittances as he believed would best ensure his 
scheme of concealment. He laid the map of Europe before 
him, and traced a course with his pencil somewhat erratic, 
yet not without a plan. Paris, Hamburgh, Stockholm, St. 
Petersburgh, Moscow, Odessa, Constantinople, through 
Hungary to Vienna. How many thousand miles ! miles 
which, while he traversed, he could possess his soul in free- 
dom — fear no scrutiny — he asked no insidious questions. 
He covdd look each man in the face, and none trace his 
crime in his own. 

It was a wild scheme to make so young a child as Eliza- 
beth the companion of these devious and long wanderings, 
yet it was her idea that shed golden rays on the boundless 
prospect he contemplated. He could not have undertaken 
this long journey alone — memoiy and remorse his only 
companions. He was not one of those, unfortunately, 
whom a bright eye and kindly smile can light at once into a 
flame — soon burnt out, it is true, but warming and cheering, 
and yet harmless, while it lasted. He could not, among 
strangers, at once discern the points to admire, and make 
himself the companion of the intelligent and good, through 
B3 



34 FALKNER. 

a sort of freemasonry some spirits possess. This was a 
great defect of character. He was proud and reserved. His 
esteem must be won — long habits of intimacy formed — his 
fastidious taste never wounded — his imagination never 
balked ; without this he was silent and wrapped in himself. 
All his life he had cherished a secret and ardent passion, 
beyond whose bounds everything was steril — this had 
changed from the hopes of love to tlie gnawing pangs of 
remorse — but still his heart fed on itself— and unless that 
was interested, and by the force of affection he were called 
out of himself, he must be miserable. To arrive unwel- 
comed at an inn — to wander through unknown streets and 
cities without any stimulus of interest or curiosity — to tra- 
verse vast tracts of country, useless to others, a burden to 
himself, alone — this would have been intolerable. But Eliz- 
abeth was the cure ; she was the animating soul of his pro- 
ject ; her smiles — her caresses — the knowledge that he ben- 
efited her, was the life-blood of his design. He indulged, 
with a sort of rapture, in the feeling that he loved, and was 
beloved by an angel of innocence, who grew each day into 
a creature endowed witii intelligence, sympathies, hopes, 
fears, and affections — all individually her own, and yet all 
modelled hy him — centred in him — to whom he was neces- 
sary — who would be his ; not, like the vain love of his youth, 
only in imagination, but in every thought and sensation, to 
the end of time. 

Nor did he intend to pursue his journey in such a way as 
to overtask her strength or injure her health. He cared not 
how much time elapsed Before its completion. It would 
certainly employ years ; it mattered not how many. When 
winter rendered travelliiig painful, he could take up his 
abode in a metropolis abounding in luxuries. During the 
summer heats he might fix himself in some villa, where the 
season would be mitigated to pleasantness. If impelled by 
a capricious predilection, he could stay for months in any 
chance-selected spot ; but his home was, with Elizabeth be- 
side him, in his travelling carriage. Perpetual change would 
baffle pursuit if any were set on foot ; while the restlessness 
of his life, the petty annoyances and fleeting pleasures of a 
traveller's existence, would serve to occupy his mind, and 
prevent its being mastered by those passions to which one 
victim had been immolated, and which rendered the rem- 
nant of his days loathsome to himself. " I have determined 
to live," he thought, " and I must therefore ensure the means 
of life. I must adopt a method by which I can secure for 
each day that stock of patience which is necessary to lead 
me to the end of it. In the plan I have laid dowai, eveiy 
day will have a task to be fulfilled, and while I employ my- 
self in executing it, I need look neither before nor behind ; 
and each day added thus, one by one, to one another, will 



FALKNER. 35 

form months and years, and I shall grow old travelling post 
over Europe." 

His resolution made, he was eager to enter on his travels, 
which, singular to say, he performed even in the very man- 
ner he had determined ; for the slight changes in the exact 
route, introduced afterward from motives of convenience 
or pleasure, might be deemed rather as in accordance with, 
than deviating from, his original project. 

Falkner was not a man ordinarily met with. He pos- 
sessed wild and fierce passions, joined to extreme sensibil- 
ity, beneficence, and generosity. His boyhood had been 
rendered miserable by the violence of a temper roused to 
anger even from trifles. Collision with his fellow-creatures, 
a sense of dignity with his equals, and of justice towards his 
inferiors, had subdued this ; still his blood was apt to boil 
when roused by any impediment to his designs, or the sight 
of injury towards others, and it was with great difficulty that 
he kept down the outward marks of indignation or contempt. 
To tame the vehemence of his disposition, he had endeav- 
oured to shackle his imagination, and to cultivate his reason 
— and perhaps he fancied that he succeeded best when, in 
fact, he entirely failed. As now, when he took the little 
orphan with him away from all the ties of blood — the man- 
ners and customs of her country — from the disciphne of 
regular education, and the society of others of her sex — had 
not Elizabeth been the creature she was, with a character 
not to be disharmonized by any circumstances, this had been 
a fearful experiment. 

Yet he fondly hoped to derive happiness from it. Trav- 
ersing long tracts of countiy with vast speed, cut off from 
intercourse with every one but her, and she endearing her- 
self more, daily, by extreme sweetness of disposition, he 
began almost to forget the worm gnawing at his bosom ; 
and, feeling himself free, to fancy himself happy. Unfor- 
tunately, it was not so : he had passed the fatal Rubicon, 
placed by conscience between innocence and crime ; and 
however much he might for a time deaden the stings of 
feeling or baffle the inevitable punishment hereafter to arise 
from the consequences of his guilt, still there was a burden 
on his soul that took all real zest from life, and made his 
attempts at enjoyment more like the experiments of a phy- 
sician to dissipate sickness, than the buoyant sensations of 
one in health. 

But then he thought not of himself — he did not live in 
himself, but in the joyous being at his side. Her happiness 
was exuberant. She might be compared to an exotic, late- 
ly pinched, and drooping from the effects of the wintry air, 
transported back, in the first opening of a balmy southern 
spring, to its native clime. The young and tender green 
leaves unfolded themselves in the pleasant air; blossoms 



36 FALKNER. 

appeared among the foliage, and sweet fruit miglit be anti- 
cipated. Nor was it only the kindness of her protector that 
endeared him to her : much of the warm sentiment of affec- 
tion arose from their singular modes of life. Had they 
continued at a fixed residence, in town or country, in a 
civilized land, Elizabeth had seen her guardian at stated 
periods ; have now and then taken a walk with him, or 
gambolled in the garden at his side ; while, for the chief 
part, their occupation and pursuits being different, they had 
been little together. As it was, they were never apart : 
side by side in a travelling carriage — now arriving, now de- 
parting ; now visiting the objects worthy of observation in 
various cities. They shared in all the pleasures and pains 
of travel, and each incident called forth her sense of depend- 
ance, and his desire to protect ; or, changing places, even 
at that early age, she soothed his impatience, while he was 
beguiled of his irritability by her cheerful voice and smiling 
face. In all this, Ehzabeth felt most strongly the tie that 
bound them. Sometimes benighted; sometimes delayed 
by swollen rivers ; reduced to bear together the miseries of 
a bad inn, or, at times, of no inn at all ; sometimes in dan- 
ger — often worn by fatigue — Elizabeth found in her adopted 
parent a shelter, a support, and a preserver. Creeping close 
to him, her little hand clasped in his, or carried in his arms, 
she feared nothing, because he was there. During storms 
at sea, he had placed his own person between her and the 
bitter violence of the wind, and had often exposed himself 
to the inclemency of the weather to cover her, and save 
her from wet and cold. At all times he was on the alert 
to assist, and his assistance was like the coming of a su- 
perior being, sufficient to save her from harm, and inspire 
her with courage. Such circumstances had, perhaps, made 
a slight impression on many children ; but Elizabeth had 
senses and sensibilities so delicately strung, as to be true 
to the slightest touch of harmony. 

She had not forgotten the time when, neglected, and al- 
most in rags, she only heard the voice of complaint or chi- 
ding ; when she crept alone over the sands to her mother's 
grave, and, did a tempest overtake her, there was none to 
shield or be of comfort ; she remembered little accidents 
that had at times befallen her, Avhich, to her infantine feel- 
ings, seemed mighty dangers. But there had been none, 
as now, to pluck her from peril and ensure her safety. She 
recollected when, on one occasion, a thunder-storm had 
overtaken her in the churchyard ; when, hurryiyg home, 
her foot slipped, as she attempted to descend the wet path 
of the cliff; frightened, she clambered up again, and, re- 
turning home by tlic upper road, had lost her Avay, and 
found night. darkening round her — wet, tired, and shivering 
with fear and cold ; and then, on her return, her welcome 



PALKNER. 3T 

had been a scolding — well meant, perhaps, but vulgar, loud, 
and painful : and now the contrast I Her wishes guessed — 
her thoughts divined — ready succour and perpetual vigilance 
were for ever close at hand; and all this accompanied by a 
gentleness, kindness, and even by a respect, which the ar- 
dent yet refined feelings of her protector readily bestowed. 
Thus a physical gratitude — so to speak — sprung up in her 
child's heart, a precursor to the sense of moral obligation 
to be developed in after years. Every hour added strength 
to her affection, and habit generated fidelity, and an attach- 
ment not to be shaken by any circumstances. 

Nor was kindness from him the only tie between them. 
Elizabeth discerned his sadness, and tried to cheer his 
gloom. Now and then the fierceness of his temper 
broke forth towards others ; but she was never terri- 
fied, and grieved for the object of his indignation ; or if 
she felt it to be unjust, she pleaded the cause of the in- 
jured, and, by her caresses, brought him back to himself. 
She early learned the power she had over him, and loved 
him the more fondly on that account. Thus there existed 
a perpetual interchange of benefit — of watchful care — of 
mutual forbearance — of tender pity and thankfulness. If 
all this seems beyond the orphan's years, it must be remem- 
bered that peculiar circumstances develop peculiar facul- 
ties ; and that, besides, what is latent does not the less ex- 
ist on that account. Elizabeth could not have expressed, 
and was, indeed, unconscious of the train of feeling here 
narrated. It was the microcosm of a plant folded up in its 
germe. Sometimes looking at a green, unformed bud, we 
wonder why a particular texture of leaves must inevitably 
spring from it, and why another sort of plant should not 
shoot out from the dark stem : but, as the tiny leaflet un- 
closes, it is there in all its peculiarity, and endowed with 
all the especial qualities of its kind. Thus with Elizabeth, 
however, in the thoughtlessness and inexperience of child- 
hood, small outwai'd show was made of the inner sense ; 
yet in her heart, tenderness, fidelity, and unshaken truth 
were folded up, to be developed as her mind gained ideas, 
and sensation gradually verged into sentiment. 

The course of years, also, is included in this sketch. 
She was six years old when she left Paris — she was nearly 
ten when, after many wanderings, and a vast tract of coun- 
try overpassed, they arrived at Odessa. There had always 
been a singular mixture of childishness and reflection in her, 
and this continued even now. As far as her own pleasures 
were concerned, she might be thought behind her age : to 
chase a butterfly — to hunt for a flower — to play with a fa- 
vourite animal — to listen with eagerness to the wildest fairy 
tales — such were her pleasures ; but there was something 
more as she watched the turns of countenance in him she 
4 



38 FALKNER. 

named her father — adapted herself to his gloomy or commu- 
nicative mood — pressed near him when she thought he was 
annoyed — and restrained every appearance of discomfort 
when he was distressed by her being exposed to fatigue or 
the inclement sky. 

When at St. Petersburgh he fell ill. she never left his 
bedside ; and, remembering the death of her parents, she 
•wasted away with terror and grief At another time, in a 
wild district of Russia, she sickened of the measles. They 
were obliged to take refuge in a miserable hovel ; and, de- 
spite all his care, the want of medical assistance endangered 
her life, while her convalescence Avas rendered tedious and 
painful by the absence of every comfort. Her sweet eyes 
grew dim ; her little head drooped. No mother could have 
attended on her more assiduously than Falkner ; and she 
long after remembered his sitting by her in the night to 
give her drink — her pillow smoothed by him — and, when 
she grew a little better, his canying her in his arms under a 
shady grove, so to give her the benefit of the air, in a man- 
ner that w^ould least incommode her. These incidents were 
never forgotten. They were as the colour and fragrance 
to the rose — the very beauty and delight of both their hves. 
Faikner felt a half remorse at the too great pleasure he de- 
rived from her society ; while hers was a sort of rapturous, 
thrilling adoration, that dreamed not of the necessity of a 
check, and luxuriated in its boundless excess. 



CHAPTER VI. 

It was late in the autumn when the travellers arrived at 
Odessa, whence they were to embark for Constantinople, 
in the neighbourhood of which city they intended to pass 
the winter. 

It must not be supposed that Falkner journeyed in the 
luxurious and troublesome style of a Milord Anglais. A 
caleche was his only carriage. He had no attendant for 
himself, and was often obliged to change the woman hired 
for the service of Elizabeth. The Parisian with whom they 
commenced their journey was reduced to despair by the 
time they arrived at Hamburgh. The German who replaced 
her was dismissed at Slockliolm. The Swede next hired 
became homesick at Moscov/, and they arrived at Odessa 
without any servant. Falkner scarcely knew what to do, 
being quite tired of the exactions, caprices, and repinings 
of each expatriated menial — yet it was necessary that Eliz- 
abeth should have a female attendant ; and, ou his arrival 



PALKNER. 39 

at Odessa, he immediately set on foot various inquiries to 
procure one. Several presented themselves, who proved 
wholly unfit; and Falkner was made angry by their extor- 
tionate demands and total incapacity. 

At length a person was ushered in to him, who looked, 
who was, English. She was below the middle stature — 
spare, and upright in figure, with a composed countenance, 
and an appearance of tidiness and quiet that was quite novel, 
and by no means unpleasing, contrasted with the animated 
gestures, loud voices, and exaggerated protestations of the 
foreigners. 

" I hear, sir," she began, " that you are inquiring for an 
attendant to wait on Miss Falkner during year journey to 
Vienna : 1 should be very glad if you would accept my ser- 
vices." 

"Are you a lady's maid in any English family here!" 
asked Falkner. 

" I beg your pardon, sir," continued the little woman, 
primly, " 1 am a governess. I lived many years with a 
Russian lady at St. Petersburgh ; she brought me here, and 
is gone and left me." 

" Indeed !" exclaimed Falkner ; " that seems a very unjust 
proceeding — how did it happen V 

" On our arrival at Odessa, sir, the lady, who had no such 
notion before, insisted on converting me to her church ; and 
because I refused, she used me, I may say, very ill ; and 
hiring a Greek girl, left me here quite destitute." 

" It seems that you have the spirit of a martyr," observed 
Falkner, smiling. 

" I do not pretend to that," she replied ; " but I w'as born 
and brought up a Protestant ; and I did not like to pretend 
to believe what 1 could not." 

Falkner was pleased with the answer, and looked more 
scrutinizinglv on the applicant. She was not ugly — but 
slightly pitted with the smallpox — and with insignificant 
features ; her mouth looked obstinate — and her light gray 
eyes, though very quick and intelligent, yet from their small- 
ness, and the lids and brows being injured by the traces of 
the maladv, did not redeem her countenance from an entire- 
ly commonplace appearance, which might not disgust, but 
could not attract. 

" Do you understand," asked Falkner, " that I need a ser- 
vant, and not a governess ? 1 have no other attendant for 
my daughter ; and you must not be above waiting on her as 
she has been accustomed." 

" I can make no objection," she replied ; " my first wish 
is to get awav from this place, free from expense. At Vi- 
enna I can find a situation such as I have been accustomed 
to— now I shall be very glad to reach Germany safely in 
any creditable capacity— and I shall be grateful to you, sir, 



40 FALKNER. 

if you do not consider my being destitute against me, but 
be willing to help a country-woman in distress." 

There was a simplicity, though a hardiness in her manner, 
and an entire want of pretension or affectation that pleased 
Falkner. He inquired concerning her abilities as a govern- 
ess, and began to feel that in that capacity also she might 
be useful to Elizabeth. He had been accustomed, on all 
convenient occasions, to hire a profusion of masters ; but 
this desultory sort of teaching did not inculcate those hab- 
its of industry and daily application which it is the best aim 
of education to promote. At the same time he much feared 
an improper female companion for the child, and had suffered 
a good deal of anxiety on account of the many changes he 
had been forced to make. He observed the lady before him 
narrowly — there was nothing prepossessing, but all seemed 
plain and unassuming ; though formal, she was direct — her 
words few — her voice quiet and low, without being soft or 
constrained. He asked her what remuneration she would 
expect ; she said that her present aim was to get to Vienna 
free of expense, and she did not expect much beyond — she 
had been accustomed to receive eighty pounds a year as 
governess, but as she was to serve Miss Falkner as maid, 
she would only ask twenty. 

" But as I wish you to act as both," said Falkner, " we 
must join the two sums, and I will pay you a hundred." 

A ray of pleasure actually for a second illuminated the 
little woman's face : while with an unaltered tone of voice 
she repMed, " I shall be very thankful, sir, if you think 
proper." 

" You must, liowever, understand our conditions," said 
Falkner. " I talk of Vienna — but I travel for my pleasure, 
with no fixed bourn or time. I am not going direct to 
Germany — 1 spend tlie winter at Constantinople. It may 
be that I shall linger in those parts — it may be that from 
Greece I shall cross to Italy. You must not insist on my 
taking you to Vienna : it is enough for your purpose, I sup- 
pose, if you reach a civilized part of the world, and are 
comfortably situated, till you find some other family going 
whither you desire." 

She was acquiescent. She insisted, however, with much 
formality, that he should make inquiries concerning her 
from several respectable families at Odessa ; otherwise, she 
said, he could not fitly recommend her to any other situa- 
tion. Falkner complied. Every one spoke of her in high 
terms, lauding her integrity and kindness of heart. " Miss 
Jervis is the best creature in the world," said the wife of 
the French consul ; " only she is English to the core — so 
precise, and formal, and silent, and quiet, and cold. No- 
thing can persuade her to do what she does not think right. 
After being so shamefully deserted, she might have lived in 



FALKNER. 41 

my house, or four or five others, doing nothing ; but she 
chose to have pupils, and to earn money by teaching. This 
might have been merely for the sake of paying for her jour- 
ney ; but, besides this, we discovered that she supports 
some poor relation in England, and, while cast away here, 
she still remembered and sent remittances to one whom she 
thought in want. She has a heart of gold, though it does 
not shine." 

Pleased with this testimony, Falkner thought himself for- 
tunate in securing her services, at the same time that he 
feared he should find her presence a considerable encum- 
brance. A servant was a cipher, but a governess must re- 
ceive attention — she was an equal, who would perpetually 
form a third with him and Elizabeth. His reserve, his love 
of independence, and his regard for the feelings of another, 
would be perpetually at war. To be obliged to talk when 
he wished to be silent ; to listen to, and answer frivolous 
remarks; to know that at all times a stranger was there — 
all this seemed to him a gigantic evil; but it vanish-ed after 
a few days' trial of their new companion's qualities. What- 
ever Miss Jervis's latent virtues might be, she thought that 
the chief among them was to be 

" Content to dwell in decencies for ever" — 

her ambition was to be unimpcachably correct in conduct. 
It a little jarred with her notions to be in the house of a 
single gentleman — but her desolate situation at Odessa al- 
lowed her no choice ; and she tried to counterbalance the 
evil by seeing as little of her employer as possible. Brought 
«p from childhood to her present occupation, she was mould- 
ed to its very form ; and her thoughts never strayed beyond 
her theory of a good governess. Her methods were all 
straightforward — pointing steadily to one undisguised aim 
— no freak of imagination ever led her out of one hard, de- 
fined, unerratic line. She had no pretension, even in the 
innermost recess of her heart, beyond her station. To be 
diligent and conscientious in her task of teaching was the 
sole virtue to which she pretended ; and, possessed of much 
good sense, great integritj-, and untiring industry, she suc- 
ceeded beyond what could have been expected from one 
apparently so insignificant and taciturn. 

She was, at the beginning, limited very narrowly in the 
exercise of any authority over her pupil. She was obliged, 
therefore, to exert herself in winning influence, instead of 
controlling by reprimands. She took great pains to excite 
Elizabeth to learn; and once having gained her consent to 
apply to any particular study, she kept her to it with pa- 
tience and perseverance ; and the very zeal and diligence 
she displayed in teaching made Elizabeth ashamed to repay 
her with an inattention that looked like ingratitude. Soon, 



42 FALKNER. 

also, curiosity and alove of knowledge developed themselves. 
Elizabeth's mind was of that high order which soon found 
something congenial in study. The acquirement of new 
ideas — the sense of order, and afterward of power — awoke 
a desire for improvement. Falkner was a man of no com- 
mon intellect ; but his education had been desidtory ; and 
he had never lived with the learned and well-informed. His 
mind was strong in its own elements, but these lay scat- 
tered, and somewhat chaotic. His observation was keen, 
and his imagination fervid; but it was inborn, uncultivated, 
and unenriched by any vast stores of reading. He was the 
very opposite of a pedant. INIiss Jervis was much of the 
latter ; but the two served to form Elizabeth to something 
better than either. vShe learned from Falkner the uses of 
learning : from Miss Jervis she acquired the thoughts and 
experience of other men. Like all young and ardent minds, 
which are capable of enthusiasm, she found infinite dehght 
in the pages of ancient history : she read biography, and 
speedily found models for herself, whereby she measured 
her own thoughts and conduct, rectifying her defects, and 
aiming at that honour and generosity which made her heart 
beat and cheeks glow when narrated of others. 

There was another very prominent distinction between 
Falkner and the governess : it made a part of the system of 
the latter never to praise. All that she tasked her pupil to 
do was a duty — when not done it was a deplorable fault — 
when executed, the duty was fulfilled, and she need not re- 
proach herself — that was all. Falkner, on the contrary, 
fond and eager, soon looked upon her as a prodigy ; and 
though reserved, as far as his own emotions were concerned, 
he made no secret of his almost adoration of Elizabeth. 
His praise was enthusiastic — it brought tears into her eyes 
— and yet, strange to say, it is doubtful whether she ever 
strived so eagerly, or felt so satisfied with it, as for the par- 
simonious expressions of bare satisfaction from Miss Jer- 
vis. They excited two distinct sensations. She loved her 
protector the more for his fervid approbation — it was the 
crown of all his gifts — she wept sometimes only to remem- 
ber his ardent expressions of approbation ; but Miss Jervis in- 
spired sclf-difndence, and with it a stronger desire for im- 
provement. Thus the sensibility of her nature was culti- 
vated, while her conceit was checked ; to feel that to be 
meritorious with Miss Jervis was impossible — not to be faulty 
was an ambitious aim. She easily discovered that affection 
rather than discernment dictated the approbation of Falkner; 
and loved him better, but did not prize hereelf the more. 

He, indeed, was transported by the progress she made. 
Like most self-educated, or uneducated men, he had a pro- 
digious respect for learning, and was easily deceived into 
think'tisf irrnch of whnt wis \rn\n ■ he fflt f'la^M \v^n ha 



FALKNER. ' 4S 

found Elizabeth eager to recite the wonders recorded in his- 
tory, and to dehneate the characters of ancient heroes — 
narrating their achievements, and quoting their sayings. 
His imagination and keen spirit of observation were, at 
the same time, of the utmost use. He analyzed with dis- 
crimination the actions of her favourites — brought the ex- 
perience of a mind full of passion and reflection to com- 
ment upon every subject, and taught her to refer each max- 
im and boasted virtue to her own sentiments and situation; 
thus to form a store of principle by which to direct her fu- 
ture life. 

Nor were these more masculine studies the only lessons 
of Miss Jervis — needlework entered into her plan of educa- 
tion, as well as the careful inculcation of habits of neat- 
ness and order; and thus Ehzabeth escaped for ever the 
danger she had hitherto run of wanting those feminine 
qualities without which every woman must be unhappy — 
and, to a certain degree, unsexed. The governess, mean- 
while, was the most unobtrusive of human beings. She 
never showed any propensity to incommode her employer 
by making him feel her presence. Seated in a corner of the 
carriage, with a book in her hand, she adopted the ghostly 
rule of never speaking except when spoken to. When 
stopping at inns, or when, on arriving at Constantinople, 
they became stationary, she was even less obtrusive. At 
first Falkner had deemed it proper to ask her to accompany 
them in their excursions and drives ; but she was so alive 
to the impropriety of being seen with a gentleman, with 
only a young child for their companion, that she always pre- 
ferred staying at home. After ranging a beautiful land- 
scape, after enjoying the breezes of heaven and the sight of 
the finest views in the world, when Elizabeth returned she 
always found her governess sitting in tlie same place, away 
from the window (because, when in London, she had been 
told that it was not proper to look out of a window), even 
though the sublimest objects of nature were spread for her 
view; and employed on needlework, or the study of some 
language that might hereafter serve to raise her in the class 
of governesses. She had travelled over half the habitable 
globe, and part of the uninhabited — but she had never di- 
verged from the prejudices and habits of home — no gleam 
of imagination shed its golden hue over her drab-coloured 
mind : whatever of sensibility existed to soften or dulcify, 
she sedulously hid ; yet such was her serenity, her justice, 
her trustworthiness, and total absence of pretension, that it 
was impossible not to esteem, and almost to like her. 

The trio, thus diverse in disposition, j'et, by the force of 
a secret harmony, never fell into discord. ]\Iiss Jervis was 
valued, and by Elizabeth obeyed in all that concerned her 
vocation — she therefore was satisfied. Falkner felt her use. 



44 FALKNER. 

and gladly marked the good effects of application and knowl- 
edge on the character of his beloved ward — it was the 
moulding of a block of Parian marble into a muse ; all 
corners — all superfluous surface — all roughness departed — 
the intelligent, noble brow — the serious, inquiring eye — the 
mouth — seat of sensibility — all these were developed with 
new beauty, as animated by the aspiring soul within. Her 
gentleness and sweetness increased with the cultivation of 
her mind. To be wise and good was her ambition — partly 
to please her beloved father — partly because her young 
mind perceived tlie uses and beauty of knowledge. 

If anything could have cured the rankling wounds of 
Falkner's mind, it was the excellence of the young Eliza- 
beth. Again and again he repeated to himself, that, brought 
\ip among the worldly and cold, her noblest qualities would 
either have been destroyed, or produced misery. In con- 
tributing to her happiness and goodness, he hoped to make 
some atonement for the past. There were many periods 
when remorse, and regret, and self-abhorrence held power- 
ful sway over him : he was, indeed, during the larger por- 
tion of his time, in the fullest sense of the word — misera- 
ble. Yet there were gleams of sunshine he had never hoped 
to experience again — and he readily gave way to this re- 
lief; while he hoped that the worst of his pains were over. 

In this idea he was egregiously mistaken. He was al- 
lowed to repose for a few years. But the cry of blood was 
yet unanswered — the evil he had committed unatoned; 
though they did not approach him, the consequences of his 
crime were full of venom and bitterness to others — and, un- 
awares and unexpectedly, he was brought to view and feel 
the wretchedness of which he was the sole author. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Three more years passed thus over the head of the young 
Elizabeth ; when, during the warm summer months, the 
wanderers established themselves for a season at Baden. 
They had hitherto lived in great seclusion — and Falkner 
continued to do so ; but he was not sorry to find his adopted 
child noticed and courted by various noble ladies, who were 
charmed by the pure complexion — the golden hair, and 
spirited, though gentle, manners of the young English 

gill- 
Elizabeth's characteristic was an enthusiastic aflection- 
ateness — every little act of kindness that she received ex- 
cited her gratitude : she felt as if she never could — though 



FALKNER. ' 45 

she would constantly endeavour — repay the vast debt she 
owed her benefactor. She loved to repass in her mind 
those sad days when, under the care of the sordid Mrs. 
Baker, she ran every hazard of incurring the worst evils of 
poverty ; ignorance and blunted sensibility. She had pre- 
served her little well-worn shoes, full of holes, and slipping 
from her feet, as a sort of record of her neglected situation. 
She remembered how her hours had been spent loitering 
on the beach — sometimes with her little book, from which 
her mother had taught her — oftener in constructing sand 
castles, decorated with pebbles and broken shells. She re- 
collected how she had thus built an imitation of the church 
and churchyard, with its shady corner and single stone 
marking two graves : she remembered the vulgar, loud 
voice that called her from her employment with, " Come, 
Missy, come to your dinner! The Lord help me! I wonder 
when anybody else will give you a dinner." She called to 
mind the boasts of Mrs. Baker's children, contrasting their 
Sunday frock with hers — the smallest portion of cake given 
to her last, and with a taunt that made her little heart swell 
and her throat feel choked, so that she could not eat it, but 
scattered it to the birds — on which she was beat for being 
wasteful ; all this was contrasted with the vigilance, the 
tenderness, the respect of her protector. She brooded over 
these thoughts till he became sacred in her eyes ; and, 
young as she was, her heart yearned and sickened for an 
occasion to demonstrate the deep and unutterable thankful- 
ness that possessed her soul. 

She was not aware of the services she rendered him in 
her turn. The very sight of her was the dearest — almost 
the only joy of his life. Devoured by disappointment, 
gloom, and remorse, he found no relief except in her artless 
prattle, or t;;e consciousness of the good he did her. She 
perceived this, and was ever on the alert to watch his mood, 
and to try by every art to awaken complacent feelings. She 
did not know, it is true, the cause of his sufferings — the 
fatal memories that haunted him in the silence of night — 
and threw a dusky veil over the radiance of day. She did 
not see the fair, reproachful figure that was often before 
him to startle and appal — she did not hear the shrieks that 
rung in his ears — nor behold her floating away, lifeless, 
on the turbid waves, who, but a little before, had stood in 
all the glow of life and beauty before him. All these ago- 
nizing images haunted silently his miserable soul, and Eliza- 
beth could only see the shadow they cast over him, and 
strive to dissipate it. When she could perceive the dark 
hour passing off, chased away by her endeavours, she felt 
proud and happy. And when he told her that she had saved 
his life, and was his only tie to it — that she alone prevented 
his perishing miserably, or lingering in anguish and despair, 



46 FALKNER. 

her fond heart swelled with rapture ; and what soul-felt 
vows she made to remain for ever beside him, and pay back 
to the last the incalculable debt she owed ! If it be true 
that the most perfect love subsists between unequals — no 
more entire attachment ever existed than that between this 
man of sorrows and the happy, innocent child. He, worn 
by passion, oppressed by a sense of guilt, his brow trenched 
by the struggles of many years — she, stepping pure and free 
into life, innocent as an angel, animated only by the most 
disinterested feelings. The link between them, of mutual 
benefit and mutual interest, had been cemented by time and 
habit — by each waking thought and nightly dream. What 
is so often a slothful, unapparent sense of parental and filial 
duty, was with them a living, active spirit, for ever mani- 
festing itself in some new form. It woke with them, went 
abroad with them — attuned the voice, and shone brightly in 
the eyes. 

It is a singular law of human life, that the past, which ap- 
parently no longer forms a portion of our existence, never 
dies ; new shoots, as it were, spring up at different intervals 
and places, all bearing the indelible characteristics of the 
parent stalk ; the circular emblem of eternity is suggested 
by this meeting and recurrence of the broken ends of our 
life. Falkner had been many years absent from England. 
He had quitted it to get rid of the consequences of an act 
which he deeply deplored, but which he did not wish his 
enemies to have the triumph of avenging. So completely 
during this interval had he been cut ofi" from any, even allu- 
sion to the past, that he often tried to deceive himself into 
thinking it a dream ; often into the persuasion that, tragical 
as was the catastrophe he had brought about, it was in its 
result for the best. The remembrance of the young and 
lovely victim lying dead at his feet prevented his ever being 
really the dupe of these fond deceits — but still, memory and 
imagination alone ministered to remorse — it was brought 
home to him by none of the effects from which he had 
separated himself by a vast extent of sea and land. 

The sight of the English at Baden was exceedingly painful 
to him. They seemed so many accusers and judges ; he 
sedulously avoided their resorts, and turned away when he 
saw any approach. Yet he permitted Ehzabeth to visit among 
them, and heard her accounts of what she saw and heard 
even with pleasure ; for every word showed the favourable 
impression she made, and the simplicity of her own tastes 
and feelings, it was a new world to her, to find herself 
talked to, praised, and caressed by decrepit, painted, but 
courteous old princesses, dowagers, and all the tribe of Ger- 
man nobility and English fashionable wanderers. She was 
much amused, and her lively descriptions often made Falk- 



FALKNER. 47 

ner smile, and pleased him by proving that her firm and un- 
sophisticated heart was not to be deluded by adulation. 

Soon, however, she became more interested by a strange 
tale she brought home of a solitary boy. He was English 
— handsome and well-born — but savnge, and secluded to a 
degree that admitted of no attention being paid him. She 
heard him spoken of at first at the house of some foreign- 
ers. They entered on a dissertation on the peculiar melan- 
choly of the English, that could develop itself in a lad 
scarcely sixteen. He was a misanthrope. He was seen 
rambling the country either on foot, or on a pony — but he 
would accept no invitations — shunned the very aspect of his 
fellows — never appearing, by any chance, in the frequented 
walks about the baths. Was he deaf and dumb ? Some re- 
plied in the affirmative, and yet this opinion gained no gen- 
eral belief. Elizabeth once saw him at a little distance, 
seated under a wide-spreading tree in a little dell — to her 
he seemed more handsome than anything she had ever seen, 
and more sad. One day she was in company with a gentle- 
man, who, she was told, was his father ; a man somewhat 
advanced in years — of a stern, saturnine aspect — whose 
smile was a sneer, and who spoke of his only child, calling 
him that " unhappy boy," in a tone that bespoke rather con- 
tempt than commiseration. It soon became rumoured that 
he was somewhat alienated in mind through the ill-treat- 
ment of his parent — and Elizabeth could almost believe this 
— she was so struck by the unfeeling and disagreeable ap- 
pearance of the stranger. 

All this she related to Falkner with peculiar earnestness 
— " If you could only see him," she said, " if we could only 
get him here — we would cure his misery, and his wicked 
father should no longer torment him. If he is deranged, he 
is harmless, and I am sure he would love us. It is too sad 
to see one so gentle and so beautiful pining away without 
any to love him." 

Falkner smiled at the desire to cure every evil that 
crossed her path, which is one of the sweetest illusions of 
youth, and asked, " Has he no mother V 

" No," replied Elizabeth, " he is an orphan like me, and 
his father is worse than dead, as he is so inhuman. Oh ! 
how I wish you would save him as you saved me." 

" That, I am afraid, would be out of my power," said 
Falkner ; " yet, if you can make any acquaintance with him, 
and can bring him here, perhaps we may discover some 
method of serving him." 

For Falkner had, with all his suflferings and his faults, 
much of the Don Quixote about him, and never heard a 
storj' of oppression without forming a scheme to relieve the 
victim. On this permission, Elizabeth watched for some 
opportunity to become acquainted with the poor boy. But 



4b falkner. 

it was vain. Sometimes she saw him at a distance ; but 
if walking in the same path, he turned off as soon as he saw 
her ; or, if sitting down, he got up, and disappeared, as if by- 
magic. Miss Jervis thouglit her endeavours by no means 
proper, and would give her no assistance. " If any lady in- 
troduced him to you," she said, " it would be very well ; 
but, to run after a young gentleman, only because he looks 
unhappy, is very odd, and even wrong." 

Still Ehzabeth persisted ; she argued, that she did not 
want to know him herself, but that her father should be ac- 
quainted with him — and either induce his father to treat him 
better, or take him home to live with them. 

They lived at some distance from the baths, in a shady 
dell, whose sides, a little farther on, were broken and abrupt. 
One afternoon they were lingering not far from their house, 
when they heard a noise among the underwood and shrubs 
above them, as if some one was breaking his way through. 
" It is he — look !" cried Ehzabeih ; and there emerged 
from the covert, on to a more open but still more precipi- 
tous path, the youth tliey had remarked : he was urging his 
horse, with wilful bhndness to danger, down a declivity 
which the animal was unwilling to attempt. Falkner saw 
the danger, and was sure that the boy was unaware of how 
steep the path grew at the foot of the hill. He called out to 
him, but the lad did not heed his voice — in another minute 
the horse's feet slipped, the rider was thrown over his head, 
and the animal himself rolled over. With a scream, Eliza- 
beth sprang to the side of the fallen youth, but he rose with- 
out any appearance of great injury, or any complaint, ev- 
idently displeased at being observed : his sullen look merged 
into one of anxiety as he approached his fallen horse, whom, 
together with Falkner, he assisted to rise — the poor thing 
had fallen on a sharp poi-nt of a rock, and his side was cut 
and bleeding. The lad was now all activity ; he rushed to 
the stream that watered the little dell to procure water, 
which he brought in his hat to wash the wound ; and as he did 
so, Elizabeth remarked to her father that he used only one 
hand, and that the other arm was surely hurt. Meanwhile 
Falkner had gazed on the boy with a mixture of admiration 
and pain. He was wondrously handsome ; large, deep-set 
hazel eyes, shaded by long dark lashes — full at once of fire and 
softness ; a brow of extreme beauty, over which clustered 
a profusion of chestnut-coloured hair ; an oval face ; a per- 
son light and graceful as a sculptured image — all this, added 
to an expression of gloom that amounted to sullenness, 
with which, despite the extreme refinement of his features, 
a certain fierceness even was mingled, formed a study 
a painter would have selected for a kind of ideal poetic sort 
of bandit stripling ; but, besides this, there was resemblance, 
strange and thrilling, that struck Falkner, and made him eye 



FALKNER. 4d 

him with a painful curiosity. The lad spoke with fondness 
to his horse, and accepted the offer made that it should be 
taken to Falkner's stable, and looked to by his groom. 

" And you, too," said Elizabeth, " you are in pain, you 
are hurt." 

"That is nothing," said the youth; "let me see that I 
have not killed this poor fellow — and I am not hurt to 
signify." 

Elizabeth felt by no means sure of this. And while the 
horse was carefully led home, and his wound visited, she 
sent a servant off for a surgeon, believing, in her own 
mind, that the stranger had broken his arm. She was not 
far wrong — he had dislocated his wrist. " It were better 
had it been my neck," he muttered, as he yielded his hand 
to the gripe of the surgeon, nor did he seem to wince du- 
ring the painful operation ; far more annoyed was he by the 
eyes fixed upon him and the questions asked — his manner, 
which had become mollified as he waited on his poor horse, 
resumed all its former repulsiveness ; he looked like a 
young savage, surrounded by enemies whom he suspects, 
yet is unwilling to assail : and when his hand was ban- 
daged, and his horse again and again recommended to the 
groom, he was about to take leave, with thanks that almost 
seemed reproaches, for having an obligation thrust on him, 
when Miss Jers'is exclaimed, " Surely, 1 am not mistaken — 
are you not Master Neville V 

Falkner started as if a snake had glided across his path, 
while the youth, colouring to the very roots of his hair, and 
looking at her with a sort of rage at being thus in a matter 
detected, rephed, " My name is Neville." 

" I thought so," said the other ; " I used to see you at 
Lady Glenfell's. How is your father, Sir Boyvill V 

But the youth would answer no more ; he darted at the 
questioner a look of fury, and rushed away. " Poor fel- 
low !" cried Miss Jervis, " he is wilder than ever — he is a 
very sad case. His mother was the Mrs. Neville talked of 
so much once — she deserted him, and his father hates him. 
The young gentleman is half crazed by ill treatment and 
neglect." 

" Dearest father, are you ill V cried Elizabeth — for Falk- 
ner had turned ashy pale — but he commanded his voice to 
say that he was well, and left the room ; a few minutes 
afterward he had left the house, and, seeking the njost 
secluded pathways, walked quickly on as if to escape from 
himself. It would not do — the form of her son was before 
him — a ghost to haunt him to madness. Her son, whom 
she had loved with passion inexpressible, crazed by neglect 
and unkindness. Crazed he was not — every word he spoke 
showed a perfect possession of acute faculties — but it was 
almost worse to see so much misery in one so yoiuig. In 
5 C 



50 FALKNER. 

person, he was a model of beauty and grace — his mind 
seemed formed with equal perfection ; a quick apprehen- 
sion, a sensibility, all alive to every touch; but these were 
nursed in anguish and wrong, and strained from their true 
conclusions into resentment, suspicion, and a fierce disdain 
of all who injured, which seemed to his morbid feelings all 
who named or approached him. Falkner knew that he was 
the cause of this evil. How different a life he had led, 
if his mother had lived ! The tenderness of her disposi- 
tion, joined to her great talents and sweetness, rendered her 
unparalleled in the attention she paid to his happiness and 
education. No mother ever equalled her — for no woman 
ever possessed at once equal virtues and equal capacities. 
How tenderly she had reared him, how devotedly fond she 
Avas, Falkner loo well knew ; and tones and looks, half for- 
gotten, were recalled vividly to his mind at the sight of this 
poor boy, wretched and desolate through his raslmess. 
What availed it to hate, to curse the father! — he had never 
been delivered over to tliis father, had never been hated by 
him, had his mother survived. All these thoughts crowded 
into Falkner's mind, and awoke an anguish, which time had 
rendered, to a certain degree, torpid. He regarded himself 
Avith bitter contempt and abhorrence — he feared, with a 
kind of insane terror, to see the youth again, whose eyes, 
so like hers, he had robbed of all expression of happiness, 
and clouded by eternal sorrow. He wandered on — shrouded 
himself in the deepest thickets, and clambered abrupt hills, 
so that, by breathless fatigue of body, he might cheat his 
soul of its agony. 

Night came on, and he did not return home. Elizabeth 
grew uneasy — till at last, on making more minute inquiry, 
she found that he had come back, and was retired to his 
room. 

It was the custom of Falkner to ride every morning with 
his daughter soon after sunrise ; and on the morrow, Eliza- 
beth had just equipped herself, her thoughts full of the 
handsome boy — whose humanity to his horse, combined 
with fortitude in enduring great personal pain, rendered far 
more interesting than ever. She felt sure that, having once 
commenced, their acquaintance would go on, and that his 
savage shyness would be conquered by her father's kind- 
ness. To alleviate the sorrows of his lot — to win his con- 
fidence by affection, and to render him happy, was a project 
that was occupying her delightfully — when the tramp of a 
horse attracted her attention — and, looking from the win- 
dow, she saw Falkner ride off at a quick pace. A iew min- 
utes afterward a note was brought to her from him. It 
said — 



PALKNER. 51 

" Dear Elizabeth, 
" Some intelligence which I received yesterday obliges 
me unexpectedly to leave Baden. You will find me at 
Mayence. Request Miss Jervis to have everything packed 
up as speedily as possible ; and to send for the landlord, 
and give up the possession of our house. The rent is paid. 
Come in the carriage. I shall expect you this evening. 

" Yours, dearest, 

"J. Falkner." 

Nothing could be more disappointing than this note. Her 
first fairy dream beyond the limits of her home, to be thus 
brushed away at once. No word of young Neville — no 
hope held out of return ! For a moment an emotion ruffled 
her mind, very like ill-humour. She read the note again — 
it seemed yet more unsatisfactory — but, in turning the page, 
she found a postscript. " Pardon me," it said, " for not see- 
ing you last night; I was not well — nor am I now." 

These few words instantly gave a new direction to her 
thoughts — her father not well, and she absent, was very 
painful — then she recurred to the beginning of the note. 
" Intelligence received yesterday" — some evil news, surely 
— since the result was to make him ill — at such a word the 
recollection of his sufferings rushed upon her, and she 
thought no more of the unhappy boy, but, hurrying to Miss 
Jervis, entreated her to use the utmost expedition that they 
might depart speedily. Once she visited Neville's horse ; 
it was doing well, and she ordered it to be led carefully and 
slowly to Sir Boyvill's stables. 

So great was her impatience, that by noon they were in 
the carriage — and in a few hours they joined Falkner at 
Mayence. Elizabeth gazed anxiously on him. He was an 
altered man — there was something wild and haggard in his 
looks, that bespoke a sleepless night, and a struggle of 
painful emotion by which the very elements of his being 
were convulsed : — " You are ill, dear father," cried EHza- 
beth ; " you have heard some news that afflicts you very 
much." 

" I have," he replied ; " but do not regard me : I shall re- 
cover the shock soon, and then all will be as it was before. 
Do not ask questions — but we must return to England im- 
mediately." 

To England ! such a word Falkner had never before spo- 
ken — Miss Jervis looked almost surprised, and really 
pleased. A return to her native country, so long deserted, 
and almost forgotten, was an event to excite Elizabeth even 
to agitation — the very name was full of so many associa- 
tions. Were they hereafter to reside there ? Should they 
visit Treby 1 What was about to happen 1 She was bid 
ask no questions, and she obeyed — but her thoughts were 
C8 



53 FALKNER. 

the more busy. She remembered, also, that Neville was 
English, and she looked forward to meeting him, and re- 
newing her projects for his welfare. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

In the human heart, and, if observation does not err, 
more particularly in the heart of man, the passions exert 
their influence fitfully. With some analogy to the laws 
which govern the elements, tliey now sleep in calm, and 
now arise with the violence of furious winds. Falkner had 
latterly attained a state of feeling approaching to equanim- 
ity. He displayed more cheerfulness — a readier iHterest in 
the daily course of events — a power to give himself up to 
any topic discussed in his presence ; but this had now van- 
ished. Gloom sat on his brow — he was inattentive even to 
Elizabeth. Sunk back in the carriage — his eyes bent on 
vacancy, he was the prey of thoughts, each of which had 
the power to wound. 

It was a melancholy journey. And when they arrived in 
London, Falkner became still more absorbed and wretched. 
The action of remorse, which had been for some time sus- 
pended, renewed its attacks, and made him look upon him- 
self as a creature at once hateful and accursed. We are 
such weak beings, that the senses have power to impress 
us with a vividness which no mere mental operation can 
produce. Falkner had been at various times haunted by 
the probable consequences of his guilt on the child of his 
victim. He recollected the selfish and arrogant character 
of his father ; and conscience had led him to reproach him- 
self with the conviction, that whatever virtues young Ne- 
ville derived from his mother, or had been implanted by her 
care, must have been rooted out by the neglect or evil ex- 
ample of his surviving parent. The actual eff"ect of her 
loss he had not anticipated. There was something heart- 
breaking to see a youth, nobly gifted by nature and fortune, 
delivered over to a sullen resentment for unmerited wrongs 
— to dejection, if not to despair. An uninterested observer 
must deeply compassionate him ; Elizabeth had done so, 
child as she was, witli a pity almost painful from its ex- 
cess ; what, then, must he feel who knew himself to be the 
cause of all his wo ? 

Falkner was not a man to sit quietly under these emo- 
tions. In their first onset they had driven him to suicide ; 
preserved as by a miracle, he had exerted strong self-com- 
mand, and, by dint of resolution, forced himself to live. 



FALkNER. 63 

Vear after year had passed, and he abided by the sentence 
of life he had passed on himself — and, like the galley-slave, 
the iron which had eaten into the flesh galled less than 
when newly applied. But he was brought back from the 
patience engendered by custom at the sight of the unfortu- 
nate boy. He felt himself accursed — God-reprobated — 
mankind (though they knew it not) abhorred him. He 
would no longer live — for he deserved to die. He would 
not again raise his hand against himself — but there are many 
gates to the tomb ; he found no dithculty in selecting one 
by which to enter. He resolved to enter upon a scene of 
desperate warfare in a distant country, and to seek a deliv- 
erance from the pains of life by the bullet or the sword on 
the field of battle. Above all, he resolved that Elizabeth's 
innocence should no longer be associated with his guilt. 
The catastrophe he meditated must be sought alone, and 
she, whom he had lived to protect and foster, must be 
guarded from the hardships and perils to which he was 
about to deliver himself up. 

Meditation on this new course absorbed him for some 
days. At first he had been sunk in despondency ; as the 
prospect opened before him of activity allied to peril, and 
sought for the sake of the destruction to which it unavoida- 
bly led, his spirits rose ; like a war-horse dreaming of the 
sound of a trumpet, his heart beat high in the hope of for- 
getting the consciousness of remorse in all the turbulence 
of battle or the last forgetfulness of the grave. Still it was 
a difficult task to impart his plan to the orphan, and to pre- 
pare her for a sepai-ation. Several times he had tried to 
commence the subject, and felt his courage fail him. At 
length, being together one day, some weeks after their arri- 
val in London — when, indeed, many steps had been already 
taken by him in furtherance of his project — at twilight, as 
they sat together near the window which looked upon one 
of the London squares — and they had been comparing this 
metropolis with many foreign cities — Falkner abruptly, fear- 
ful, if he lost this occasion, of not finding another so appro- 
priate, said, " I must bid you good-by to-night, Elizabeth — 
to-morrow, earh% I set out for the north of England." 

"You mean to leave me behind!" she asked; "but you 
will not be away long !" 

" I am going to visit your relations," he replied ; " to dis- 
close to them that you are under my care, and to prepare 
them to receive you. I hope soon to return, either to con- 
duct you to them, or to bring one among them to welcome 
you here." 

Elizabeth was startled. Many yeai-s had elapsed since 
Falkner had alluded to her aUen parentage. She went by 
his name, she called him father; and the appellation scarcely 
seemed a fiction — he had been the kindest, fondest pareut to 



54 FALKNBR. 

her — nor had he ever hinted that he meant to forego the 
claim his adoption had given him, and to maJce her over to 
those who were worse than strangers in her eyes. If ever 
they had recurred to her real situation, he had not been 
chary of expressions of indignation against the Raby fam- 
ily. He had described with warm resentment the selfish- 
ness, the hardness of heart, and disdain of the well-being of 
those allied to them by blood, which too often subsists in 
aristocratic English families when the first bond has been 
broken by any act of disobedience. He grew angry as he 
spoke of the indignity with which her mother had been 
treated, and the barbarous proposition of separating her 
from her only child; and he had fondly assured her that it 
was his dearest pride to render her independent of these un- 
worthy and inhuman relations. Why were his intentions 
changed! His voice and look were ominous. Elizabeth 
was hurt — she did not like to object. ; she was silent — but 
Falkner deciphered her wounded feelings in her ingenuous 
countenance, and he too was pained ; he could not bear that 
she should think him ungrateful — mindless of her affection, 
her filial attentions, and endearing virtues ; he felt that he 
must, to a certain degree, explain his views — difficult as it 
was to make a segment of his feelings in any way take a 
definite or satisfactory shape. 

" Do not think hardly of me, my own dear girl," he be- 
gan, '• for wishing that we should separate. God knows 
that it is a blow that will visit me far more severely than 
you. You will find relations and friends who will be proud 
of you — whose aftections you will win ; wherever you are, 
you will meet with love and admiration — and your sweet 
disposition and excellent qualities will make life happy. I 
depart alone. You are my only tie — my only friend — I 
break it and leave you — never can I find another. Hence- 
forth, alone, I shall wander into distant and uncivilized coun- 
tries, enter on a new and perilous career, during which I 
may perish miserably. You cannot share these dangers 
with me." 

"But why do you seek them?" exclaimed Ehzabeth, 
alarmed by this sudden prophecy of ill. 

" Do you remember the day when we first met V replied 
Falkner ; " when my hand was raised against my own life, 
because I knew myself unworthy to exist. It is the same 
now. It is cowardly to live, feeling that I have forfeited 
every right to enjoy the blessings of life. I go that I may 
die — not by my own hand — but where I can meet death by 
the hand of others." 

Strangely and frightfully did these words fall on the ear 
of his appalled listener; he went on rapidly — for having 
once begun, the words he uttered relieved, in some degree, 
the misery that burdened his soul. 



FALKNER. 55 

" This idea cannot astonish you, my love ; you have seen 
too much of the secret of my heart ; you have witnessed 
my fits of distress and anguish, and are not now told, for the 
first time, that grief and remorse weigh intolerably on me. 
I can endure the infliction no longer. May God forgive me 
in another world — the light of this I will see no more!" 

Falkner saw the sort of astonished distress her counte- 
nance depicted ; and, angry with himself for being its cause, 
was going on in a voice changed to one less expressive of 
misery, but Elizabeth, seized with dismay — the unbidden 
tears pouring from her eyes — her young — her child's heart 
bursting with a new sense of horror — cast herself at his feet, 
and, embracing his knees as he sat, exclaimed, " My dear, 
dear father! — my more than father, and only friend — you 
break my heart by speaking thus. If you are miserable, 
the more need that your child — the creature you preserved, 
and taught to love you — should be at your side to comfort — 
I had almost said to help you. You must not cast me off! 
Were you happy, you might desert me ; but if you are mis- 
erable, I cannot leave you — you must not ask me — it kills 
me to think of it!'' 

The youthful, who have no experience of the changes of 
hfe, regard the present with far more awe and terror than 
those who have seen one turn in the hourglass suffice to 
change, and change again, the colour of their lives. To be 
divided from Falkner was to have the pillars of the earth 
shaken under her — and she clung to him, and looked up im- 
ploringly in his face, as if the next word he spoke were to 
decide all ; he kissed her, and, seating her on his knee, said, 
" Let us talk of this more calmly, dearest — I was wrong to 
agitate you — or to mix the miserable thoughts forced on 
me by my wretchedness, with the prudent consideration of 
your future destiny. I feel it to be unjust to keep you from 
your relations. They are rich. We are ignorant of what 
changes and losses may have taken place among them, to 
soften their hearts — which, after all, were never shut 
against you. You may have become of importance in their 
eyes. Raby is a proud name, and we must not heedlessly 
forego the advantages that may belong to your right to it." 
" My dear father," replied Elizabeth, " this talk is not for 
me. I have no wish to claim the kindness of those who 
treated my true parents ill. You are everything to me. I 
am little more than a child, and cannot find words to express 
all I mean ; but my truest meaning is, to show my gratitude 
to you till my dying day; to remain with you for ever, 
while you love me; and to be the most miserable creature 
in the world if you drive me from you. Have we not lived 
together since I was a little thing, no higher than your kne^ ? 
And all the time you have been kinder than any father. 
When we have beea exposed to storms, you have wrapped 



60 FALKNER. 

me round in your arms so that no drop could fall on my 
head. Do you remember that dreadful evening, when our 
carriage broke down in the wide, dark steppe ; and you, 
covering me up, carried me in your arms, while the wind 
howled and the freezing rain drove against youl You 
could hardly bear up ; and when we arrived at the post- 
house, you, strong man as you are, fainted from exhaustion; 
while I, sheltered in your arms, was as warm and well as 
if it had been a summer's day. You have earned me — you 
have bought me by all this kindness, and you must not cast 
me away !" 

She clung round his neck — her face bathed in tears, sob- 
bing and speaking in broken accents. As she saw him 
soften, she implored him yet more earnestly, till his heart 
was quite subdued ; and, clasping her to his heart, he show- 
ered kisses on her head and neck; while, to his surprise, 
forgotten tears sprung to his own ej'es. " For worlds I 
would not desert you," he cried. "' It is not casting you 
away that we should separate for a short time ; for where I 
go, indeed, dearest, you cannot accompany me. I cannot 
go on living as I have done. For many years now my life has 
been spent in pleasantness and peace — I have no right to 
this — hardship, and toil, and death I ought to repay. I ab- 
hor myself for a coward, when I think of what others suf- 
fer through my deeds — while I am scathless. You can 
scarcely remember the hour when the touch of your little 
hand saved my life. My heart is not changed sinte then — 
I am unworthy to exist. Dear Ehzabeth, you may one day 
hate me, when you know the misery I have caused to those 
who deserved better at my hands. The cry of my victim 
rings in my ears, and 1 am base to survive my crime. Let 
me, dearest, make my own the praise, that nothing graced 
my life more than the leaving it. To live a coward and a 
droi.<', suits vilely with my former acts of violence and ill. 
Let mi! gain peace of mind by exposing my life to danger. 
By advocating a just cause I may bring a blessing dow'n 
upon my enrleavours. I shall go to Greece. Theirs is a 
good cause — that of liberty and Christianity against tyranny 
and an evil faith. Let me dio fcr it ; and when it is known, 
as it will one day be, that the iiniocent perished through me, 
it will be added, that 1 died in tlie defence of the suffering 
and the brave. But you cannot go with me to Greece, 
dearest ; you must await my return in this country." 

" You go to di-e !" she exclaimed, " and I am to be far 
away. No, dear father, I am a little girl, but no harm can 
happen to me. The Ionian Isles are under the Knglish gov- 
ernment — there, at least, I may go. Athens too, i dare say, 
is safe. Dear Athens — we spent a happy winter there bo- 
fore the revolution began. You forget what a traveller I 
am — how accustomed to find my homo among strangers in 



FALKNER. > &? 

foreign and savage lands. No, dear father, you will not 
leave me behind. I am not unreasonable — I do not ask to 
follow you to the camp — but you must let me be near — in 
the same country as yourself." 

" You force me to yield against my better reason," said 
Falkner. " This is not right — I feel that it is not so — one 
of your sex, and so young, ought not to be exposed to all I 
am about to encounter ; and if I should die, and leave you 
there desolate ]" 

" There are good Christians everywhere to protect the 
orphan," persisted Elizabeth. " As if you could die when 
I am with you ! And if you died while I was far, what 
would become of me? Am I to be left, like a poor sailor's 
wife — to get a shocking, black-sealed letter, to tell me that, 
while I was enjoying myself, and hoping that you had long 
been — It is wicked to speak of these things — but I 
shall go with my own dear, dear father, and he shall not 
die !" 

Falkner yielded to her tears, her caresses, and persuasions. 
He was not convinced, but he could not withstand the ex- 
cess of grief she displayed at the thought of parting. It 
was agreed that she should accompany him to the Ionian 
Isles, and take up her residence there while he joined the 
patriot band in Greece. This point being decided upon, he 
was anxious that their departure should not be delayed a 
single hour, for most earnest was he to go, to throw off 
the sense of the present — to forget his pangs in anticipated 
danger. 

Falkner played no false part with himself. He longed to 
die ; nor did the tenderness and fidelity of Elizabeth disarm 
his purpose. He was convinced that she must be happier 
and more prosperous when he was removed. His tortured 
mind found relief when he thought of sacrificing his life, 
and quitting it honourably on the field of battle. It was 
only by the prospect of such a fate that he shut his eyes to 
sterner duties. In his secret heart, he knew that the course 
demanded of him by honour and conscience was to stand 
forth, declare his crime, and reveal the mysterimis tragedy, 
of which he was the occasion, to the Avorld ; but he dared 
uot accuse himself, and live. It was this that urged him to 
the thoughts of death. " When I am no more," he told him- 
self, " let all he declared — let my name be loaded with 
curses — but let it be added, that 1 died to expiate my guilt. 
I cannot be called upon to live with a brand upon my name ; 
soon it will be all over, and then let them heap obloquy, 
pyramid-high, upon my grave ! Poor Elizabeth will become 
a Raby ; and, once cold beneath the sod, no more misery 
will spring from acts of mine !" 

Actuated by these thoughts, Falkner drew up two narra- 
tives — both short. The tenour of one need not be mentioned 
C 3 



68 FALKNER. 

in this piace. The other stated how he had found Elizabeth 
and adopted her. He sealed up with this the few docu- 
ments that proved her birth. He also made his will — divi- 
ding his property between his heir at law and adopted child 
— and smiled proudly to think, that, dowered thus by him, 
she would be gladly received into her father's family. 

Every other arrangement for their voyage was quickly 
made, and it remained only to determine whether Miss Jer- 
vis should accompany them. Elizabeth's mind was divided. 
She was averse to parting with an unoffending and kind 
companion, and to forego her instructions — though, in truth, 
she had got beyond them. But she feared that the govern- 
ess might hereafter shackle her conduct. Every word 
Falkner had let fall concerning his desire to die, she re- 
membered and pondered upon. To watch over and to serve 
him was her aim in going with him. Child as she was, a 
thousand combinations of danger presented themselves to 
her imagination, when her resolution and fearlessness 
might bring safety. The narrow^ views and timid disposi- 
tion of Miss Jervis might impede her grievously. 

The governess herself was perplexed. She was startled 
when she heard of the new scheme. She was pleased to 
find herself once again in England, and repugnant to the 
idea of leaving so soon again for so distant a region, where 
a thousand perils of war and pestilence would beset every 
step. She was sorry to part with Elizabeth, but some day 
that time must come ; and others, dearer from ties of rela- 
tionship, lived in England from whom she had been loo 
long divided. Weighing these things, she showed a degree 
of hesitation that caused Falkner to decide as his heart in- 
clined, and to determine that she should not accompany 
him. She went with them as far as Plymouth, where they 
embarked. Elizabeth, so long a wanderer, felt no regret in 
leaving England. She was to remain with one who was 
far more than country — who was indeed her all. Falkner 
felt a load taken from his heart when his feet touched the 
deck of the vessel that was to bear them away — half his 
duly was accomplished — the course begun which would 
lead to the catastrophe he coveted. The sun shone brightly 
on the ocean, the beeze was fresh and favourable. • Miss 
Jervis saw them push from shore with smiles and happy 
looks — she saw them on the deck of the vessel, which, with 
sails unfurled, had already begun its course over the sea. 
Elizabeth waved her handkerchief — all grew confused ; the 
vessel itself was sinking beneath the horizon, and long be- 
fore night no portion of her canvass could be perceived. 

" I wonder," thought Miss Jervis, " whether I shall ever 
see them again !" 



FALKNER. 59 



CHAPTER IX. 

Three years from this time, Elizabeth found herself in 
the position she had vaguely anticipated at the outset, but 
which every day spent in Greece showed her as probable, if 
not inevitable. Tliese three years brought Falkner to the 
verge of the death he had gone out to seek. He lay wound- 
ed, a prey of the Greek fever, to all appearance about to 
die ; while she watched over him, striving, not only to avert 
the fatal consequences of disease, but also to combat the de- 
sire to die which destroyed him. 

In describing Elizabeth's conduct during these three 
years, it may be thought that the type is presented of ideal 
and almost unnatural perfection. She w^as, it is true, a re- 
markable creature ; and unless she had possessed rare and 
exalted qualities, her history had not afforded a topic for 
these pages. She was intelligent, warm-hearted, courage- 
ous, and sincere. Her lively sense of duty was perhaps 
her chief peculiarity. It was that which strung to such 
sweet harmony the other portions of her character. This 
had been fostered by the circumstances of her life. Her 
earliest recollection was of her dying parents. Their mu- 
tual consolations, the bereaved widow's lament, and her 
talk of another and a better world, where all would meet 
again who fulfilled their part virtuously in this world. She 
had been taught to remember her parents as inheriting the 
immortal life promised to the just, and to aspire to the 
same. She had learned, from her mother's example, that 
there is nothing so beautiful and praiseworthy as the sacri- 
fice of hfe to the good and happiness of one beloved. She 
never forgot her debt to Falkner. She felt herself bound 
to him by stronger than filial ties. A father performs an 
imperious duty in cherishing his child ; but all had been 
spontaneous benevolence in Falkner. His very faults and 
passions made his sacrifice the greater, and his generosity 
the more conspicuous. Elizabeth believed that she could 
never adequately repay the vast obligation which she was 
under to him. 

Miss Jervis also had conduced to perfectionize her mind 
by adding to its harmony and justness. Miss Jervis, it is 
true, might be compared to the rough-handed gardener, 
whose labours are without elegance, and yet to whose 
waterings and vigilance the fragrant carnation owes its pe- 
culiar tint, and the wax-like camellia its especial variety. It 
was through her that she had methodised her mind — through 
her that she had learned to concentrate and prolong her at- 



60 FALKNER. 

tention, and to devote it to study. She had taught her or= 
der and industry — and, without knowing it, she had done 
more — she had inspired ardour for knowledge, delight in its 
acquisition, and a glad sense of self-approbation when diffi- 
culties were conquered by perseverance ; and when, by 
dint of resolution, ignorance was exchanged for a clear per- 
ception of any portion of learning. 

It has been said that every clever person is, to a certain 
degree, mad. By which it is to be understood, that every 
person whose mind soars above the vulgar, has some exalt- 
ed and disinterested object in view to which they are ready 
to sacrifice the common blessings of life. Thus, from the 
motnent that Elizabeth had brought Falkner to consent to 
her accompanying him to Greece, she had devoted herself 
to the task, first, of saving his life, if it should be in danger; 
and, secondly, of reconciling him in the end to prolonged 
existence. There were many difficulties which presented 
themselves, since she was unaware of the circumstances 
that drove him to seek death as a remedy and an atone- 
ment ; nor had she any desire to pry into her benefactor's 
secrets : in her own heart, she suspected an overstrained 
delicacy or generosity of feeling, which exaggerated error, 
and gave the sting to remorse. But whatever was the oc- 
casion of his sufferings, she dedicated herself to their re- 
lief; and resolved to educate herself so as to fulfil the task 
of reconciling him to life, to the best of her ability. 

Left at Zante, while he proceeded to join the patriot 
bands of Greece, she boarded in the house of a respectable 
family, but hved in the most retired manner possible. Her 
chief time was spent in study. She read to store her mind 
— to confirm its fortitude — to elevate its tone. She read, 
also, to acquire such precepts of philosophy and religion as 
might best apply to her peculiar task, and to learn those 
secrets of life and death whicli Falkner's desire to die had 
brought so home to her juvenile imagination. 

If a time is to be named when the human heart is nearest 
moral perfection, most alive, and yet most innocent, aspiring 
to good, without a knowledge of evil, the period at which 
Elizabeth had arrived — from thirteen to sixteen — is it 
Vague forebodings are awakened ; a sense of the opening 
drama of life, unaccompanied with any longing to enter on 
it — that feeling is reserved for the years that follow ; but at 
fourteen and fifteen we only feel that we are emerging from 
childhood, and we rejoice, having yet a sense that as yet it 
is not fitting that we should make one of the real actors on 
the world's stage. A dreamy, delicious period, when all is 
unknown ; and yet we feel that all is soon to be unveiled. 
The first pang has not been felt ; for we consider childhood's 
woes (real and frightful as those sometimes are) as puerile, 
and no longer belonging to us. We look upon the menaced 



FALKNER. 61 

evils of life as a fiction. How can care touch the soul 
which places its desires beyond low-minded thought ? In 
gratitude, deceit, treason — these have not yet engendered 
distrust of others, nor have our own weaknesses and errors 
plapted the thorn of self-disapprobation and regret. Soli- 
tude is no evil, for the thoughts are rife with busy visions ; 
and the shadows that flit ai-ound and people our reveries 
have almost the substance and vitality of the actual world. 

Elizabeth was no dreamer. Though brought up abstracted 
from common worldly pursuits, there was something sin- 
gularly practical about lier. She aimed at being useful in 
all her reveries. This desire was rendered still more fer- 
vent by her affection for Falkner — by her fears on his ac- 
count — by her ardent wish to make hfe dear to him. All 
her employments, all her pleasures, referred themselves, as 
it were, to this primary motive, and were entirely ruled 
by it. 

She portioned out the hours of each day, and adhered 
steadily to her self-imposed rules. To the early morning's 
ride succeeded her various studies, of which music, for 
which she developed a true ear and delicate taste, formed 
one ; one occupation relieved the other ; from her dear 
books she had recourse to her needle, and, bending over 
her embroidery frame, she meditated on what she read ; ' 
or, occupied by many conjectures and many airy dreams 
concerning Falkner, she became absorbed in revery. Some- 
times, from the immediate object of these, her memory re- 
verted to the melancholy boy she had seen at Baden. His 
wild eyes — his haughty glance — his lively solicitude about 
the animal he had hurt, and uncomplaining fortitude with 
which he had endured bodily pain, were often present to 
her. She wished that they had not quitted Baden so sud- 
denly : if they had remained but a few days longer, he 
might have learned to love them ; and even now he might 
be with Falkner, sharing his dangers, it is true, but also 
each guarding the other from that rash contempt of life in 
which they both indulged. 

Her whole mind being filled by duties and affection, each 
day seemed short, yet each was varied. At dawn she rose 
hglitly from her bed, and looked out over the blue sea and 
rocky shore ; she prayed, as she gazed, for the safety of 
her benefactor ; and her thoughts, soaring to her mother in 
heaven, asked her blessing to descend upon her child. 
Morning was not so fresh as her, as she met its first sweet 
breath ; and, cantering along the beach, she thought of 
Falkner — his absence, his toils and dangers — with resigna- 
tion, mingled with a hope that warmed into an ardent desire 
to see him again. Surely there is no object so sweet as the 
young in solitude. In after years — when death has bereaved 
us of the dearest — when cares, and regrets, and fears, and 



62 - FALKNER. 

passions, evil either in their nature or their results, have 
stained our lives with black, solitude is too sadly peopled 
to be pleasing ; and when we see one of mature years alone, 
we believe that sadness must be the companion. But the 
solitary thoughts of the young are glorious dreams — 

" Their state, • 

Like, to a lark at break of day arising 
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate." 

To behold this j^oung and lovely girl wandering by the lonely 
shore, her thoughts her only companions, love for her bene- 
factor her only passion, no touch of earth and its sordid 
Avoes about her, it was as if a new Eve, watched over by 
augels, had been placed in the desecrated land, and the very 
ground she trod grew into paradise. 

Sometimes the day was sadly checkered by bad news 
brought from the continent of Greece. Sometimes it was 
rendered joyous by the arrival of a letter from her adored 
father. Sometimes he was with her, and he, animated by 
the sense of danger, and the knowledge of his usefuhiess 
to the cause he espoused, was eloquent in his narrations, 
overflowing in his affection to her, and almost happy in the 
belief thai he was atoning for the past. The idea that he 
should fall in the fields of Greece, and wash out with his 
heart's blood the dark blot on his name, gave an elevation 
to his thoughts, a strained and eager courage and fortitude 
that accorded with his fiery character. He was born to be 
a soldier ; not the military man of modern days, but the 
hero who exposed his life without fear, and found joy in 
battle and hard-earned victory, when these were sought and 
won for a good cause, from the cruel oppressor. 



CHAPTER X. 

During Falkner's visits to Zante, Elizabeth had been led 
to remark the faithful attentions of his chief follower, an 
Albanian Greek. This man had complained to his young mis- 
tress of the recklessness with which Falkner exposed him- 
self — of the incredible fatigue he underwent — and his belief 
that he must ere long fall a victim to his disdain of safety 
and repose ; which, while it augmented the admiration his 
courage excited, was yet not called for by the circumstances 
of the times. He would have been termed rash and fool- 
hardy, but that he maintained a dignified composure through- 
out, joined to military skill and fertiUty of resource ; and 
while contempt of life led him invariably to select the post 



FALKNER. §S 

of danger for himself, he was sedulous to preserve the lives 
of those under his command. His early life had familiar- 
ized him with the practices of war. He was a valuable of- 
ficer ; kind to his men, and careful to supply their wants, 
while he contended for no vain distinctions ; and was ready, 
on all occasions, to undertake such duties as others shrunk 
•iTom, as leading to certain death. 

Elizabeth listened to Vasili's account of his hairbreadth 
escapes, his toils, and desperate valour, with tearful eyes 
and an aching heart. " Oh ! that I could attach him to life !" 
she thought. She never complained to him, nor persuaded 
him to alter his desperate purpose, but redoubled her affec- 
tionate attentions. When he left her, after a hurried visit, 
she did not beseech him to preserve himself; but her tear- 
ful eyes, the agony with which she returned his parting em- 
brace, her despondent attitude as his bark left the shore ; 
and, when he returned, her eager joy — her eye hghted up 
with thankful love — all bespoke emotions that needed no 
other interpreter, and which often made him half shrink 
from acting up to the belief he had arrived at, that he ought 
to die, and that he could only escape worse and ignominious 
evils by a present and honourable death. 

As time passed on — as by the arrival of the forces from 
Egypt the warfare grew inore keen and perilous — as Vasili 
renewed the sad tale of his perils at each visit, with some 
added story of lately and narrowly escaped peril — fear began 
to make too large and engrossing a portion of her daily 
thoughts. She ceased to take in the ideas as she read — 
her needle dropped from her hand — and, as she played, the 
music brought streams of tears from her eyes, to think of 
the scene of desolation and suffering in which she felt that 
she should soon be called upon to take a part. There was 
no help or hope, and she must early learn the woman's first 
and hardest lesson, to bear in silence the advance of an 
evil whicli might be avoided, but for the unconquerable will 
of another. Almost she could have called her father cruel, 
had not the remembrance of the misery that drove him to 
desperation inspired pity, instead of selfish resentment. 

He had passed a few da)'s with her, and the intercourse 
they held had been more intimate and more affectionate than 
ever. As she grew older, her mind, enriched by cultivation, 
and developed by the ardour of her attachment, grew more 
on an equality with his experienced one, than could have 
been the case in mere childhood. They did not take the 
usual position of father and child — the instructer and in- 
structed — the commander and the obedient — 

" They talked with open heart, and tongue 
Affectionate and true, j 

A pair of friends." * 



64 FALKNER. 

And the inequality which made her depend on him, and 
caused him to regard her as the creature who was to pro- 
long his existence, as it were, beyond the grave, into vvliich 
he beheved himself to be descending, gave a touch of some- 
thing melancholy to their sympathy, without which, in tliis 
shadowy world, nothing seems beautiful and enduring. 

He left her ; and his little bark, under press of sail, sped 
merrily through the waves. She stood to watch — her lieart_ 
warmed by the recollection of his fervent affection — his at-' 
tentive kindness. He had ever been brave and generous ; 
but now he had become so sympathizing and gentle, that 
she hoped that the time was not far off when moral courage 
would spring from that personal hardihood which is at once 
so glorious and so fearful. " God shield you, my father!" 
she thought, " God preserve you, my more than father, for 
happier thoughts and belter days ! For the full enjoyment 
of, and control over, those splendid qualities witlr which 
Nature has gifted you !" 

Such was the tenour of her thoughts. Enthusiasm mingled 
with fond solicitude — and thus she continued her anxious 
watchings. By every opportunity she received brief letters, 
breathing affection, yet containing no word of self. Some- 
times a phrase occurred directing her what to do if anything 
fatal occurred to him, which startled and pained her ; but 
there was nothing else that spoke of death — nor any allusion 
to his distaste for life. Autumn Avas far advanced — the 
sounds of war were somewhat lulled ; and, except in small 
skirmishing parties, that met and fought under cover of the 
ravines and woods, all was quiet. Elizabeth felt less fearful 
than usual. She wrote to ask when Falkner would again 
visit her ; and he, in reply, promised so to do immediately 
after a meditated attack on a small fortress, the carrying of 
which was of the first import to the safe quartering of his 
little troop during the winter. She read this with delight 
— she solaced herself with the prospect of a speedier and 
longer visit than usual ; with childish thoughtlessness she 
forgot that the attack on the town was a work of war, and 
might bring witli it the fatal results of mortal struggle. 

A few days after, a small, ill-looking letter was put into 
her hands — it was written in Romaic, and the meaning of 
its illegible ciphers could only be guessed at by a Greek. It 
was from Vasili — to tell her, in a few words, that Falkner 
was lying in a small village, not far from the seacoast, op- 
posite Zante. It mentioned that he had been long suffering 
from a Greek fever ; and having been badly wounded in the 
late attack, the combined effects of wound and malady left 
little hopes of recovery ; while the fatal moment was has- 
tened by the absence of all medical assistance — the misera- 
ble state of the village where he was lying— and the bad air 
of the country around. 



FALKNER. 65 

Elizabeth read as if in a dream' — the moment, then, had 
come, the fatal moment which she had often contemplated 
with terror, and prayed Heaven to avert — she grew pale 
and trembling ; but again in a moment she recalled her 
presence of mind, and summoned all the resolution she had 
endeavoured to store up to assist her at this extremity. 
She went herself to the chief English authority in the isl- 
and, and obtained an order for a vessel to bring him of!'— • 
instantly she embarked. She neither wept nor spoke ; but 
sitting on the deck, tearless and pale, she prayed for speed, 
and that she might not find him dead. A few hours brought 
her to the desired port. Here a thousand difficulties awaited 
her — but she was not to be intimidated by all the threatened 
dangers — and only besought the people about her to admit'of 
no excuses for delay. She was accompanied by an Englisli 
surgeon and a few attendants. She longed to outspeed them 
all, and yet she commanded herself to direct everything 
that was done ; nor did her heart quail when a few shot, 
and the cry of the men about her, spoke of the neighbourhood 
of the enemy. It proved a false alarm — the shots came 
from a straggling party of Greeks — salutations were ex- 
changed, and still she pushed on — her only thought was — 
" Let me but find him alive — and then surely he will live !" 

As she passed along, the sallow countenances and wasted 
figures of the peasants spoke of the frightful ravages of the 
epidemic by which Falkner was attacked — and the squalid- 
ness of the cabins and the filth of the villages were sights 
to make her heart ache ; at length they drew near one 
Avhich the guide told her was that named by Vasili. On 
inquiring, they were directed down a sort of lane to a 
wretched dilapidated dwelling — in the courtyard of which 
were a party of armed Greeks, gathered together in a sort 
of ominous silence. This was the abode of Falkner ; she 
alighted — and in a few minutes Vasili presented himself — 
his face painted with every mark of apprehension and sor- 
row — he led her on. The house was desolate beyond ex- 
pression — there was no furniture, no glass in the windows 
— no token of human habitation beyond the weather-stained 
walls. She entered tlie room where her father lay — some 
mattresses placed on the divan were all his bed ; and there 
was nothing else in the room except a brazier to heat his 
food. Elizabeth drew near — and gazed in awe and grief. 
Already he was so changed that she could scarcely know 
him — his eyes sunk, his cheeks fallen, his brow^ streaked 
with pallid hues ; a ghastly shadow lay upon his face, 
the apparent forerunner of death. He had scarcely strength 
sufficient to raise his hand, and his voice was hollow — yet 
he smiled when he saw her — and that smile, the last refuge 
of the soul that informs our clay, and even sometimes sur- 
vives it, was all his own ; it struck her to the heart — and 
C* 



66 FALKNER. 

her eyes were dimmed with tears while VasiU cast a wist- 
ful glance on her — as much as to say, " I have lost hope !" 

"Thank you for coming — yet you ought not to be here," 
hoarsely murmured the sick man. Elizabeth kissed his hand 
and brow in answer — and, despite of all her endeavours, the 
tears fell from her eyes on his sunken cheek ; again he 
smiled. "It is not so bad," he said; " do not v/eep, I am 
willing to die ! I do not suffer very much, though I am 
weary of life." 

The surgeon was now admitted. He examined the wound, 
which was of a musket bullet in his side. He dressed it, 
and administered some pcjtion, from which the patient re- 
ceived instant relief ; and then joined the anxious girl, who 
had retired to another room. 

"He is in a very dangerous state," the surgeon remarked, 
in reply to her anxious looks. "Nothing certain can be 
pronounced yet. But our first care must be to remove him 
from this pestiferous place — the fever and wound combined 
must destroy him. Change of air may produce an ameliora- 
tion in the former." 

With all the energy which was her prominent charactcr- 
'istic, Elizabeth caused a litter to be prepared, horses hired, 
and everything arranged so that their journey might be 
commenced at daybreak. Every one went early to rest, to 
enjoy some repose before the morrow's journey, except 
Elizabeth ; she spent the livelong night watching beside 
Falkner, marking each change, tortured by the groans that 
escaped him in his sleep, or the suppressed complaints that 
fell from his lips — by the restlessness and fever that rendered 
each moment full of fate. The glimmering and dreary light 
of the lamp increased even the squalid and bare appearance 
of the wretched chamber in which he lay ; Elizabeth gazed 
for a moment from the casement to see how moved the 
stars — and there, without, nature asserted herself — and it 
was the lovely land of Greece that met her eyes ; the 
southern night reigned in all its beauty — the stars hung re- 
fulgent lamps in the transparent ether : the fire-flies darted 
and wheeled among the olive groves, or rested in the myr- 
tle hedges, flasliing intermittingly, and filling for an instant 
a small space around them with fairy brightness ; each form 
of tree, of rocky fragment, and broken upland, lay in calm 
and beautiful repose ; she turned to the low couch on which 
lay all her hope — her idolized father; the streaked brow — 
the nerveless hand — half-open eye, and hard breathing be- 
tokened a frightful stage of weakness and suffering. 

The scene brought unsought into her mind the lines of 
the English poet, which so touchingly describe the desola- 
tion of Greece — blending the idea of mortal suffering with 
the long-drawn calamities of that oppressed country. The 
words, the lines, crowded on her memory; and a chord 



FALKNEU. 67 

was struck in her heart as she ejaculated, " No ! no, not 
so ! Not the first day of death — not now, or ever !" As she 
spoke, she dissolved in tears — and, weeping long and bit- 
terly, she became afterward calmer — the rest of her watch 
passed more peacefully. Even the patient suffered less as 
night verged into morning. 

At an early hour all was ready. Falkner was placed in 
the litter ; and the little party, gladly leaving the precincts 
"of the miserable village, proceeded slowly towards the sea- 
shore. Every step was replete with pain and danger. Eliz- 
abeth was again all herself. Self-possessed and vigilant, 
she seemed at once to attain years of experience. No one 
could remember that it was a girl of sixteen who directed 
them. Hovering round the litter of the wounded man, and 
pointing out how best to carry him, so that he might suffer 
least — as the inequalities of the ground, the heights to climb, 
and the ravines to cross, made it a task of difficulty. Now 
and then the report of a musket Avas heard ; sometimes a 
Greek cap, not uuoftcn mistaken for a turban, peered above 
the precipice that overlooked the road ; frequent alarms 
were given, but she was frightened by none. Her large 
eyes dilated and darkened as she looked towards the dan- 
ger pointed out— and slie drew nearer the litter, as a lonely 
mother might to the cradle of her child, when in the still- 
ness of night some ravenous beast intruded on a savage sol- 
itude ; but she never spoke, except to point out the mis- 
takes she was the first to perceive — or to order the men to 
proceed lightly, but without fear — nor to allow their prog- 
ress to be checked by vain alarms. 

At length the seashore was gained, and Falkner at last 
placed on the deck of the vessel, reposing after the torture 
which, despite every care, the journey had inflicted. Al- 
ready Elizabeth believed that he was saved — and yet, one 
glance at his wan face and emaciated figure reawakened 
every fear. He looked, and all around believed him to be, 
a dying man. 



CHAPTER XI. 

Arrived at Zante, placed in a cool and pleasant chamber, 
attended by a skilful surgeon, and watched over by the un- 
sleeping vigilance of Elizabeth, Falkner slowly receded 
from the shadow of death, whose livid hue had sat upon his 
countenance. Still health was far. His wound was at- 
tended by bad symptoms, and the fever eluded every at- 
tempt to dislodge it from his frame. He was but half saved 



68 FALKNER. 

from the grave ; emaciated and feeble, his disorder even 
tried to vanquish his mind ; but that resisted with more en- 
ergy than his prostrate body. The death he had gone out 
to seek he awaited with courage, yet he no longer expressed 
an impatience of existence, but struggled to support with 
manly fortitude at once the inroads of disease and the long- 
nourished sickness of his soul. 

It had been a hard trial to Elizabeth to watch over him, 
while each day the surgeon's serious face gave no token of 
hope. But she would not despond, and in the end his re- 
covery was attributed to her careful nursing. She never 
quitted his apartment except for a few hours' sleep ; and, 
even then, her bed was placed in the chamber adjoining his. 
If he moved, she was roused and at his side, divining the 
cause of his uneasiness, and alleviating it. There were 
other nurses about him, and Vasili, the most faithful of all 
— but she directed them, and brought that discernment and 
tact of which a woman only is capable. Her little soft 
hand smoothed his pillow, or, placed upon his brow, cooled 
and refreshed him. She scarcely seemed to feel the effects 
of sleepless nights and watchful days — every minor sensa- 
tion was merged in the hope and resolution to preserve 
him. 

Several months were passed in a state of the utmost so- 
licitude. At last he grew a little better — the fever inter- 
mitted — and the wound gave signs of healing. On the first 
day that he was moved to an open alcove, and felt some 
enjoyment from the soft air of evening, all that Elizabeth 
had gone through was repaid. She sat on a low cushion 
near; and his thin fingers, now resting on her head, now 
playing with the ringlets of her hair, gave token, by that 
caress, that though he was silent and his look abstracted, 
his thoughts were occupied upon her. At length he said — 
" Elizabeth, you have again saved my life." 

She looked up with a quick, glad look, and her eyes 
brightened with pleasure. 

" You have saved my Hfe twice," he continued ; " and 
through you, it seems, I am destined to live. I will not 
quarrel again with existence, since it is your gift ; I will 
hope, prolonged as it has been by you, that it will prove 
beneficial to you. I have but one desire now — it is to be 
the source of happiness to you." 

" Live ! dear fatlier, live ! and I must be happy !" she ex- 
claimed. 

"God grant that it prove so!" he replied, pressing her 
hand to his lips. " The prayers of such as I too often turn 
to curses. But you, my own dearest, must be blessed ; and 
as my life is preserved, I must hope that this is done for 
your sake, and that you will derive some advantage from it." 

" Can you doubt it V said Elizabeth. " Could I ever be 



FALKNER. 69 

consoled if I lost you ? I hiive no other tie on earth — no 
other friend — nor do I wish for any. Only put aside your 
cruel thoughts of leaving me for ever, and every blessing is 
mine." 

"Dear, generous, faithful giri! Yet the time will come 
when I shall not be all in ail to you ; and then, will not 
my name — my adoption — prove a stumbling-block to your 
wislH?s V 

■" How could that happen V she said. " But do not, dear 
father, perplex yourself witli looking -either forward or 
backward — repose on the present, Avhich has nothing in it 
to annoy you ; or rather, your gallantry — your devotion to 
the cause of an injured people, must inspire you with feel- 
ings of self-gratuiation, and speak peace to your troubles. 
Let the rest of j'our life pass away as a dream ; banish 
quite those thoughts that have hitherto made you wretched. 
Your life is saved, despite yourself. Accept existence as an 
immediate gift from Heaven ; and begin life, from this mo- 
ment, with new hopes, new resolves. Whatever your er- 
ror was. which you so bitterly repent, it belonged to an- 
other state of being. Your remorse, yoi,ir resignation, has 
effaced it ; or if anj' evil results remain, you will rather ex- 
ert youmelf to repair them — than uselessly to lament." 

"To repair my error — my crime!" cried Falkner, in an 
altered voice, while a cloud gathered over his face ; " no, 
no ! that is impossible ! never, till we meet in another life, 
can I offer reparation to the dead. But I must not think of 
this now ; it is too ungrateful to you to dwell upon thoughts 
which would deliver me over to the tomb. Yet one thing I 
would say. I left a short detail in England of the miserable 
event that must at last destroy me, but it is brief and unsat- 
isfactory. During my midnight watchings in Greece, I pre- 
pared a longer account. You know that little rosewood 
box, which, even when dying, I asked for -, it is now close 
to my bed; the key is here attached to my watch-chain. 
That box contains the narrative of my crime; when I die, 
you will read it and judge me." 

" Never ! never '." exclaimed Elizabeth, earnestly. " Dear 
father, how cruelly you have tormented yourself by dwel- 
ling upon and writing about the past ! and do you think that 
I would ever read accusations against you, the guardian an- 
gel of my life, even though written by yourself? Let me 
bring the box — let me burn the papers — let no word remain 
to tell of misery you repent, and have atoned for." 

Falkner detained her, as she would have gone to ex- 
ecute her purpose. " Not alone for you, my child," he said, 
" did I write, though hereafter, when you hear me accused, 
it may be satisfactory to learn the truth from my own hand. 
But there are others to satisfy — an injured angel to be vin- 
dicated — a frightful mystery to be unveiled to the world. I 



70 FALKNER. 

have waited till I should die to fulfil this duty, and still, for 
your sake, I will wait ; for while you love me and bear my 
name, I will not cover it with obloquy. But if I die, this se- 
cret must not die wiih me. I will say no more now, nor ask 
any promises : when the time comes, you will understand 
and submit to the necessity that urged me to disclosure." 

" You shall be obeyed, 1 promise you," she replied. " I 
will never set my reason above yours, except in asking you 
to live for the sake of the poor little thing you have pre- 
served." 

" Have I preserved you, dearest ? I often fear I did wrong 
in not restoring you to your natural relations. In making 
you mine, and linking you to my blighted fortunes, I may 
have prepared unnumbered ills for you. Oh, how sad a rid- 
dle is life ! we hear of the straight and narrow path of right 
in youth, and we disdain the precept; and now would I 
were sitting among the nameless crowd on the common road- 
side, instead of wandering blindly in this dark desolation ; 
and you — I have brouglit you with me into the wilderness 
of error and suffering ; it was wrong — it was mere selfish- 
ness ; yet who could foresee ■?" 

" Talk not of foreseeing," said Elizabeth, soothingly, as 
she pressed his thin hand to her warm young lips, " think 
only of the present ; you have made me yours for ever — 
you cannot cast me off without inflicting real pangs of mis- 
ery, instead of those drea.my ills you speak of. I am happy 
with you, attending on, being of use to you. What would 
you more T' 

" Perhaps it is so," replied Falkner, " and your good and 
grateful heart will repay itself for all its sacrifices. I never 
can. Henceforth I will be guided by you, my Elizabeth. I 
will no longer think of what I have done, and what yet 
must be suffered, but wrap up my existence in you ; live in 
your smiles, your hopes, your affections." 

This interchange of heartfelt emotions did good to both. 
Perplexed, nay, tormented by conflicting duties, Falkner 
was led by her entreaties to dismiss the most painful of his 
thoughts, and to repose at last on those more healing. The 
evil and the good of the day he resolved should henceforth 
be sufficient; his duty towards Elizabeth was a primary 
one, and he would restrict himself to the performing it. 

There is a magic in sympathy, and the heart's overflow- 
ing, that we feel as bliss, though we cannot explain it. 
This sort of joy Elizabeth felt after tliis conversation with 
her father. Their hearts had united ; they had mingled 
thought and sensation, and the intimacy of affection that re- 
sulted was an ample reward to her for every suffering. She 
loved her benefactor with inexpressible truth and devoted- 
ness, and their entire and full interchange of confidence gave 
a vivacity to this sentiment, which of itself was happiness. 



FALKNER. 71 



CHAPTER XII. 

Though saved from immediate death, Falkner could hardly 
be called convalescent. His wound did not heal healthily, 
and the intermitting fever, returning again and again, laid him 
prostrate after he had acquired a little strength. After a 
winter full of danger, it was pronounced that the heats of a 
southern summer would probably prove fatal to him, and 
that he must be removed without delay to the bracing air of 
his native country. 

Towards the end of the month of April they took their 
passage to Leghorn. It was a sad departure ; the more so 
that they were obliged to part with their Greek servant, on 
whose attachment Elizabeth so mucli depended. Vasili had 
entered into Falkner's service at the instigation of the Pro- 
tokleft, or chief of his clan; when the Englishman was 
obliged to abandon the cause of Greece, and return to his 
own country, Vasili, though loath and weeping, went back 
to his native master. The young girl, being left without 
any attendant on whom she could wholly rely, felt singularly 
desolate ; for as her father lay on the deck, weak from the 
exertion of being removed, she felt that his life hung by a 
very slender thread, and she shrank half affrighted from 
what might ensuo to her, friendless and alone. 

Her presence of mind and apparent cheerfulness was 
never, however, diminished by these secret misgivings; and 
she sat by her father's low couch, and placed her hands in 
his, speaking encouragingly, while her eyes filled with tears 
as the rocky shores of Zante became indistinct and vanished. 

Their voyage was without any ill accident, except that 
the warm southeast wind, which favoured their navigation, 
sensibly weakened the patient ; and Elizabeth grew more 
and more eager to proceed northward. At Leghorn they 
were detained by a long and vexatious quarantine. The 
summer had commenced early, with great heats ; and the 
detention of several weeks in the lazaretto nearly brought 
about what they had left Greece to escape. Falkner grew 
worse. The seabreezes a little mitigated his sufferings ; 
but life was worn away by repeated struggles, and the most 
frightful debility threatened his frame with speedy dissolu- 
tion. How could it be otherwise I He had wished to die. 
He sought death where it lurked insidiously in the balmy 
airs of Greece, or met it openly armed against him on the 
field of battle. Death wielded many weapons ; and he was 
struck by many, and the most dangerous. Elizabeth hoped, 
in spite of despair ; yet, if called away from him, her heart 



72 FALKNEH. 

throbbed wildly as she re-entered his apartment ; there was 
no moment when the fear did not assail her, that she might, 
on a sudden, hear and see that all was over. 

An incident happened at this period, to which Elizabeth 
paid little attention at the time, engrossed as she was by- 
mortal fears. Tliey had been in quarantine about a fort- 
night, when, one day, there entered the gloomy precincts of 
the lazaretto a tribe of English people. Such a horde of 
men, women, and children, as gives foreigners a lively belief 
that we islanders are all mad, to migrate in this way, with,, 
the young and helpless, from comfortable homes, in search 
of the dangerous and comfortless. This roving band con- 
sisted of the eldest son of an English nobleman and his 
wife — four children, the eldest being six years old — a gov- 
erness — three nursery-maids, two lady's maids, and a suffi- 
cient appendage of men-servants. They had all just arrived 
from viewing the pyramids of Egypt. The noise and bustle 
— the servants insisting on making everybody comfortable, 
where comfort was not — the spreading out of all their own 
camp apparatus — ;ioined to the seeming indifference of the 
parties chiefly concerned, and the unconstrained astonish- 
ment of the Italians — was very amusing. Lord Cecil, a tall, 
thin, plain, quiet, aristocratic-looking man of middle age, 
dropped into the first chair — called for his writing-case — 
began a letter, and saw and heard nothing that was going 
on. Lady Cecil — who was not pretty, but lively and ele- 
gant — was surrounded by her children — they seemed so 
many little angels, with blooming checlvc and golden hair — 
the youngest cherub slept profoundly amid the din ; the 
others were looking eagerly out for their dinner. 

Elizabeth had seen' their entrance — she saw them walk- 
ing in the garden of the lazaretto — one figure, the govern- 
ess, though disguised by a green shade over her eyes, she 
recognised — it was Miss Jervis. Desolate and sad as the 
poor girl was, a familiar face and voice was a cordial drop 
to comfort her ; and Miss Jervis was infinitely delighted to 
meet her former pupil. She usually looked on those in- 
trusted to her care as a part of the machinery that sup- 
ported her life ; but Ehzabeth had become dear to her from 
the irresistible attraction that hovered round her — arising 
from her carelessness of self, and her touching sensibility 
to the sufferings of all around. She had often regretted 
having left her, and she now expressed this, and even her 
silence grew into something like talkativeness upon the 
unexpected meeting. " I am very unlucky," she said ; " I 
would rather, if I could with propriety, live in the meanest 
lodging in London, than in the grandest tumbledown palace of 
the East, which people are pleased to call so fine — I am 
sure they are always dirty and out of order. Lady Glenfell 
recommended me to Lady Cecil — and, certainiy, a more 



PALKNER. 73 

generous and sweet-tempered woman does not exist — and 

I was very comfortable, living at the Earl of G 's seat in 

Hampshire, and having almost all my time to myself. One 
day, to my misfortune, Lady Cecil made a scheme to trav- 
el — to get out of her father-in-law's way, I believe — he is 
rather a tiresome old man. Lord Cecil does anything she 
likes. All was atranged, and I really thought I should 
leave them — I so hated the idea of going abroad again; but 
Lady Cecil said tliat I should be quite a treasure, having been 
everywhere, and knowing so many languages, and that she 
should have never thought of going, but from my being with 
her ; so, in short, she was veiy generous, and I could not 
say no : accordingly, v.e set out on our travels, and went 
first to Portugal — where 1 had never been — and do not 
know a word of Portuguese ; and then through Spain — and 
Spanish is Greek to me — and worse — for I do know a good 
deal of Romaic. I am sure J do not know scarcely where 
we went — but our last journey was to see the pyramids of 
Egypt — only, unfortunately, I caught the ophthalmia the 
moment we got to Alexandria, and could never bear to see a 
ray of light the whole time we were in that country," 

As they talked, Lady Cecil came to join her children. 
She was struck by Elizabeth's beaming and noble counte- 
nance, which bore the impress of high thought and elevated 
sentiments. Her figure, too, had sprung up into woman- 
hood — tall and graceful — there was an elasticity joined to 
much majesty in all her appearance ; not the majesty of as- 
sumption, but the stamp of natural grandeur of soul, refined 
by education, and softened by sympathetic kindness for the 
meanest thing that breathed. Her dignity did not spring in 
the slighte^st degree from self-worship, but simply from a 
reliance on her own powders and a forgetfulness of every 
triviahty which haunts the petty- minded. No one could 
chance to see her, without stopping to gaze ; and her pecu- 
liar circumstances — the affectionate and anxious daughter 
of a d^ing man — without friend or support, except her own 
courage and patience — never daunted, yet always fearfully 
alive to his danger — rendered her infinitely interesting to 
one of her owh sex. Lady Cecil was introduced to her by 
Miss Jei-vis, and was eager to show her kindness. She of- 
fered that they should travel together ; but as Elizabeth's 
quarantine was out long before that of the new comers, 
and she was anxious to reach a more temperate climate, 
she refused ; yet she was thankful, and charmed by the 
sweetness and cordiality of her new acquaintance. 

Lady Cecil was not handsome, but there was something, 
not exactly amounting to fascination, but infinitely laknig 
in her mamier and appearance. Her cheerfulness, good- 
nature, and high-breeding diffused a grace and a pleasu- 
ral)le easiness over her manners that charmed everybody ; 
7 D 



74 FALKNER. 

good sense and vivacity, never loud nor ever dull, rendered 
her spirits agreeable. She w^as apparently the same to 
everybody; but she well knew how to regulate the inner 
spirit of her attentions while their surface looked so equal : 
no one ventured to go beyond her wishes — and where she 
wished, any one was astonished to find how far they could 
depend on her sincerity and friendliness. Had Elizabeth's 
spirit been more free, she had been delighted ; as it was, she 
felt thankful, merely for a kindness that availed her nothing. 

Lady Cecil viewed the dying Falkner and his devoted, af- 
fectionate daughter with the sincerest compassion ; dying 
she thought him, for he was wasted to a shadow, his cheeks 
colourless, his hands yellow and thin — he could not stand 
upright — and when, in the cool of evening, he was carried 
into the open air, he seemed scarcely able to speak from very 
feebleness. Elizabeth's face bespoke continual anxiety: 
her vigilance, her patience, her grief, and her resignation 
formed a touching picture, which it was impossible to con- 
template without admiration. Lady Cecil often tried to 
vv'in her away from her father's couch, and to give herself a 
little repose from perpetual attendance; she yielded but for 
a minute ; while she conversed, she assumed cheerfulness 
— but in a moment after she had glided back and taken her 
accustomed place at her father's pillow. 

At length their prison-gates were opened, and Falkner 
was borne on board a felucca bound for Genoa. Elizabeth 
took leave of her new friend, and promised to write, but 
while she spoke she forgot what she said — for, dreading at 
each moment the death of her benefactor, she did not dare 
look forward, and had little heart to go beyond the circle 
of her immediate, though dreary sensations. A fair wind 
bore them to Genoa, and Falkner sustained the journey 
very well : at Genoa they transferred themselves to another 
vessel, and each mile they gained towards France lightened 
the fears of Elizabeth. But this portion of their voyage 
was not destined to be so prosperous. They had embarked 
at night, and had made some way during the first hours ; 
but by noon on the following day they were becalmed ; the 
small vessel — the burning sun — the shocking smells — the 
want of all comfortable accommodation, combined to bring 
on a relapse — and again Falkner seemed dying. The very 
crew were struck with pity; while Elizabeth, wild almost with 
terror and the impotent Avish to save, preserved an outward 
calm, more shocking almost than shrieks and cries. At 
evening she caused him to be carried on the deck, and 
placed on a couch, with a little sort of shed prepared for 
him there ; he was too much debilitated to feel any great 
degree of relief — there was a ghastly hue settled on his 
face that seemed gradualh^ sinking into death. Elizabeth's 
courage almost gave way ; there was no physician, no 



FALKNER. 75 

friend ; the servants were frightened, the crew pitying, but 
none could lielp. 

As this sense of desertion grew strong, a despair she had 
never felt before invaded her ; and it was as she thus hung 
over Falkner's couch, the tears fast gathering in her eyes, 
and striving to check the convulsive throb that rose in her 
throat, thai a gentle voice said, " Let me place this pillow 
under your father's head, he will rest more quietly." The 
voice came as from a guardian angel ; she looked up thank- 
fully, the pillow was placed, some drink administered, a sail 
extended, so as to shield him from the evening sun, and a 
variety of little attentions paid, which evidently solaced the 
invalid ; and tlie evening breeze rising as the sun went 
down, the air grew cool, and he sunk at last into a profound 
sleep. When night came on, the stranger conjured Eliza- 
beth to take some repose, promising to watch by Falkner. 
She could not resist the entreaty, which was urged with 
sincere earnestness ; going down, she found a couch had 
been prepared for her with almost a woman's care by the 
stranger ; and before she slept he knocked at her door to 
tell her, Falkner having awoke, expressed himself as much 
easier, and very glad to hear tliat Elizabeth had retired to 
rest; after this he had dropped asleep again. 

It was a new and pleasant sensation to th.e lone girl to 
feel that there was one sharing her task, on whom she 
might rely. She had scarcely looked at or attended to the 
stranger while on deck ; she only perceived that he was 
English, and that he was young ; but now, in the quiet that 
preceded her falling asleep, his low, melodious voice sounded 
sweetly in her ears, and the melancholy and earnest ex- 
pression of his handsome countenance reminded her of 
some one she had seen before, probably a Greek ; for there 
was something almost foreign in his olive complexion, his 
soft, dark eyes, and the air of sentiment mingled with a sort 
of poetic fervour, that characterized his countenance. With 
these thoughts Elizabeth fell asleep; and when early in the 
morning she rose, and made what haste she could to visit 
the little sort of hut erected for her father on deck, the first 
person she saw was the stranger, leaning on the bulwark, 
and looking on the sea with an air of softness and sadness 
that excited her sympathy. He greeted her with extreme 
kijidness. " Your father is awake, and has inquired for 
you," he said. Elizabeth, after thanking him, took her ac- 
customed post beside Falkner. He might be better, but he 
was too weak to make much sign, and one glance at his 
colourless face renewed all her half-forgntten terrors. 

Meanwliile the breeze freshened, and the vessel scudded 
through the blue sparkling waves. The heats of noon, 
though tempered by the gale, still had a bad effect on Falk- 
ner ; and when, at about five in the evening — often in the 
D 2 



76 FALKNER. 

south the hottest portion of the day, the air being thor- 
oughly penetrated by the sun's rays — they arrived at Mar- 
seilles, it became a task of some difficulty to remove him. 
Elizabeth and the stranger had interchanged little talk du- 
ring the day ; but he now came forward to assist in remo- 
ving him to the boat — acting without question, as if he had 
been her brother, guessing, as if by instinct, the best thing 
to be done, and performing all with activity and zeal. Poor 
Elizabeth, cast on these difficult circumstances, without re- 
lation or friend, looked on him as a guardian angel, con- 
sulted him freely, and witnessed his exertions in her behalf 
in a transport of gratitude. He did everything for her, and 
would sit for hours in the room at the hotel, next to that in 
which Falkner lay, waiting to hear how he was, and if there 
was anything to be done. Elizabeth joined him now and 
then ; they were in a manner already intimate, though 
strangers ; he took a lively interest in her anxieties, and she 
looked towards him for advice and help, relied on his coun- 
sels, and was encouraged by his consolations. It was the 
first time she had felt any friendship or confidence, except 
in Falkner ; but it was impossible not to be won by her new 
friend's gentleness, and almost feminine delicacy of atten- 
tion, joined to all a man's activity and readiness to do the 
thing that was necessary to be done. " I have an adopted 
father," thought Elizabeth, " and this seems a brother 
dropped from the clouds." He was of an age to be her 
brother, but few years older ; in all the ardour and grace of 
eax'ly manhood, when developed in one of happy nature un- 
soiled by the world. 

Elizabeth, however, remained but a few days at Mar- 
seilles — it was of the first necessity to escape the southern 
heats, and Falkner was pronounced able to bear the voyage 
up the Rhone. The stranger showed some sadness at the 
idea of being left behind. In truth, if Elizabeth was glad- 
dened and comforted by her new friend, he felt double pleas- 
ure in the contemplation of her beauty and admirable quali- 
ties. No word of self ever passed her lips. All thought, 
all care, was spent on him she called her father — and the 
stranger was deeply touched by her demonstrations of filial 
affection — her total abnegation of every feeling that did not 
centre in his comfort and recovery. He had been present 
one evening, though standing apart, when Falkner, awaken- 
ing from sleep, spoke with regret of the fatigue Elizabeth 
endured, and the worthlessness of his life compared with all 
that she went through for his sake. Elizabeth replied at 
once with such energy of affection, such touching represent- 
ation of the comfort she derived from his returning health, 
and such earnest entreaties for him to love life, that the 
stranger listened as if an angel spoke. Falkner answered, 
but the remorse that burdened his heart gave something of 



FALKNER. 77 

bitterness to his reply. And her eloquent though gentle so- 
licitations that he would look on life in a better and nobler 
light — not raslily to leave its duties here to encounter those 
he knew not of in an existence beyond — and kind intima- 
tions, which, exalting his repentance into a virtue, might 
reconcile him to himself — all this won the listener to a deep 
and wondering admiration. Not in human form had he ever 
seen imbodied so much wisdom, and so much, strong yet 
tender emotion — none but woman could feel thus, but it was 
bej'ond woman to speak and to endure as slie did. She 
spoke only just so openly, remembering the stranger's pres- 
ence, as to cast a veil over her actual relationship to Falk- 
ner, whom she called, and wished to have believed to be, 
her true father. 

The fever of the sufferer being abated, a day was fixed for 
their departure from Marseilles. Tlieir new friend appeared 
to show some inclination to accompany them in their river 
navigation as far as Lyons. Elizabeth thanked him with 
her gladdened eyes ; she had felt the want of support, or 
rather she had experienced the inestimable benefit of being 
supported during the sad crisis now and then brought about 
by Falkner's changeful illness ; there was something, too, 
in the slra iger very attractive, not the less so for the mel- 
ancholy which often quenched the latent fire of his nature. 
That his disposition was really ardent, and even vivacious, 
many little incidents, when he appeared to forget himself, 
evinced — nay, sometimes his very gloom merged into sullen 
savageness, that showed that coldness was not the secret 
of his frequent fits of abstraction. Once or twice, on these 
occasions, Elizabeth was reminded, she knew not of whom 
— ^but some one she had seen before — till one day it flashed 
across her; could it be the sullen, solitary boy of Baden ! 
Singularly enough, she did not even know her new friend's 
name ; to those accustomed to foreign servants this will not 
appear strange ; he was their only visiter, and " le mon- 
sieur" was sufficient announcement when he arrived. But 
Elizabeth remembered well that the youth's name was Ne- 
ville — and, on inquiry, she learned that this also was the ap- 
pellation of her new acquaintance. 

Siie now regarded him with greater interest. She recalled 
her girlish wish that he should reside with them, and benefit 
by the kindness of Falkner — hoping that his suUcnness 
would be softened and his gloom dissipated by the affec- 
tionate attentions he would receive. She wished to discover 
in what degree time and other circumstances had operated 
to bring about the amelioration she had wished to be an in- 
strument in achieving. He was altered — he was no longer 
fierce nor sullen — yet he was still melancholy, and still un- 
happy — and she could discern that as his former mood had 
been produced by the vehemence of his cliaracter fretting 



78 FALKNER. 

against the misfortunes of his lot, so it was by subduing 
every violence of temper that the change was operated — 
and she suspected that tlie causes that originally produced 
his unhappiness still remained. Yet violence of temper is 
not a right word to use ; his temper was eminently sweet — 
he had a boiling ardour within — a fervent and a warm heart, 
which might produce vehemence of feeling, but never as- 
perity of temper. All this Elizabeth remarked — and, as be- 
fore, she longed to dissipate the melancholy that so evi- 
dently clouded his mind ; and again she indulged fancies 
that, if he accompanied them, and was drawn near them, 
the affection he would receive must dissipate a sadness cre- 
ated by unfortunate circumstances in early youth — but not 
the growth of a saturnine disposition. She pitied him in- 
tensely, for she saw that he was often speechlessly wretch- 
ed ; but she reverenced his self-control, and the manner in 
which he threw off all his own engrossing feeUngs to sym- 
pathize with and assist her. 

They were now soon to depart, and Elizabeth was not 
quite sure whether Neville was to accompany them — he had 
gone to the boat to look after some arrangements made for 
the patient's comfort — and she sat with the invalid, expect- 
ing his return. Falkner reclined near a window, clasping 
her hand, looking on her with fondness, and speaking of all 
he owed her ; and how he would endeavour to repay, by 
living, and making life a blessing to her. " 1 shall live," he 
said ; " I feel that this malady will pass away, and I shall 
live to devote myself to rewarding you for all your anxie- 
ties, to dissipating the cloud with which I have so cruelly 
overshadowed your young life, and to making all the rest 
sunshine. I will think only of you; all the rest, all that 
grieves me, and all that I repent, I cast even now into obliv- 
ion." 

At this moment the stranger entered and drew near. Eliz- 
abeth saw him, and said, "And here, dearest father, is 
another to whom you owe more than you can guess — for 
kindness to me and the help to you. I do not think I should 
have preserv.ed you without Mr. Neville." 

The young man was standing near the couch, looking on 
the invalid, and rejoicing in the change for the better that 
appeared. Falkner turned his eyes on him as Elizabeth 
spoke, a tremour ran through all his limbs, he grew ghastly 
pale, and fainted. 

An evil change from this time appeared in his state — 
and the physician was afraid of the journey, attributing his 
fainting to his inability to bear any excitement ; while 
Falkner, who was before passive, grew eager to depart. 
** Change of scene and moving will do me good," he said, 
" so that no one comes near me, no one speaks to me, but 
Ehzabeth." 



FALKNER. 79 

At one time the idea of Neville's accompanying them was 
alluded to — he was greatly disturbed — and seriously im- 
plored Elizabeth not to allow it. It was rather hard on the 
poor girl, who found so much support and solace in her new 
friend's society — but Falkner's slightest wish was with her 
a law, and she submitted without a murmur, " Do not let 
me even see him before we go," said Falkner. " Act on 
this wish, dearest, without hurting his feelings — without be- 
traying to him that I have formed it — it would be an ungra- 
cious return for the services he has rendered you — for 
which I would fain show gratitude ; but that cannot be — 
you alone can repay — do so, as you best may, with thanks 
— but do not let me see him more." 

Elizabeth wondered ; and, as a last effort to vanquish his 
dislike, she said, " Do you know that he is the same boy 
who interested us so much at Baden 1 — he is no longer sav- 
age as he was then — but I fear that he is as unhappy as 
ever." 

" Too well do I know it," replied Falkner ; " do not ques- 
tion me — do not speak to me again of him." He spoke in 
disjointed sentences — a cold dew stood on his brow — and 
Elizabeth, who knew that a mysterious wound rankled in 
his heart, more painful than any physical injury, was eager 
to calm him. Something, she might wonder ; but she 
thought more of sparing Falkner pain than of satisfying her 
curiosity, and she mentally resolved never to mention the 
name of Neville again. 

They were to embark at sunrise ; in the evening her new 
friend came to take leave, she having evaded the notion 
of his accompanying them, and insisted that he should not 
join them in the morning to assist at their departure. 
Though she had done this with sweetness, and so much 
cordiality of manner as prevented his feeling any sort of 
slight, yet in some sort he guessed that they wished to 
dismiss him, and this notion added to his melancholy, while 
some latent feeling made him readily acquiesce in it, Eliz- 
abeth was told that he had come, and left Falkner to join 
him. It was painful to her to take leave — to feel that she 
should see him no more— and to know that tlieir separation 
was not merely casual, but occasioned by her father's choice, 
which hereafter might again and again interfere to separate 
them. As she entered the room he was leaning against 
the casement, and looking on the sea which glanced before 
their windows, still as a lake, blue as the twilight sky that 
bent over it. It was a July evening — soft, genial, and sooth- 
ing: but no portion of the gladness of nature was reflected 
in the countenance of Neville. His large dark eyes seemed 
two wells of unfathomable sadness. The drooping lids 
gave them an expression of irresistible softness, which added 
interest to their melancholy earnestness. His complexiou 



80 FALKNER. 

was olive, but so clear that each vein r-ould be discerned. 
His full and finely-shaped lips bespoke the ardour and sen- 
sibility of his disposition; while his slim, youthful form ap- 
peared half bending with a weight of thought and sor- 
row. Elizabeth's heart beat as she came near and stood 
beside him. Neither spoke ; but he took her hand — and 
they both felt that each regretted the moment of parting too 
deeply for the mere ceremony of thanks and leave-taking. 

" I have grieved," said Neville, as if answering her, though 
no word had been said, " very much grieved at the idea of 
seeing you no more ; and yet it is for the best, I feel — and 
am sure. You do not know the usual unhappy tenour of my 
thoughts, nor the cause I have to look on life as an unwel- 
come burden. This is no new sentiment — it has been my 
companion since I was nine years old. At one tinxe, before 
I knew how to rein and manage it, it was more intolerable 
than now ; as a boy, it drove me to solitude — to abhorrence 
of the sight of man — to anger against God for creating me. 
These feelings have passed away ; nay, more — I live for a 
purpose — a sacred purpose, that shall be fulfilled despite of 
every obstacle — every seeming impossibility. Too often, 
indeed, the difficulties in my way have made me fear that I 
should never succeed, and I have desponded ; but never, till 
I saw you, did I know pleasure unconnected with my ulti- 
mate object. With you I have been at times taken out of 
myself; and I have almost forgotten — this must not be. I 
must resume my burden, nor form one thought beyond the 
resolution I have made to die, if need be, to secure success." 

" You must not speak thus," said Elizabeth, looking at once 
with pity and admiration on a face expressive of so much 
sensitive pride and sadness springing from a sense of in- 
jury. " If your purpose is a good one, as I must believe 
that it is, you will either succeed, or receive a compensa- 
tion from your endeavours equivalent to success. We shall 
meet again, and I shall see you happier." 

" When I am happier," he said, with more than his usual 
earnestness, " we shall indeed meet — for I will seek you at 
the farthest end of the globe. Till then, I shrink from see- 
ing any one who interests me — or from renewing sentiments 
of friendship which had better end here. You are too good 
and kind not to be made unliappy by the sight of suffering, 
and I must suffer till my end is accomplished. Even now 
I regret that I ever saw you — though that feeling springs 
from a foolish pride. For hereafter you will hear my name 
— and if }"ou already do not know — you will learn the mis- 
erable tale tliat hangs upon it — you will hear me commis- 
erated ; you will learn why — and share the feeling. I 
would even avoid your pity — ^judge, then, how loathsome it 
is to receive that of others ; and yet I must bear it, or fly 
them as I do. This will change. I have the fullest conli- 



FALKNER. 81 

dcnce that one day I may throw back on others the slur 
now cast upon me. This confidence, this full and sanguine 
trust, has altered me from what I once was; it has changed 
the impatience, the almost ferocity I felt as a boy, into for- 
titude and resolution." 

" Yes," said Elizabeth, "I remember once I saw you a 
long time since, when I was a mere girl, at Baden. Were 
you not there about four years ago ? Do you not remember 
falling with your horse and dislocating your wrist 1" 

A tracery of strange wild thought came over the coun- 
tenance of Neville. "Do I remember V he cried — "yes — 
and I remember a beautiful girl — and I thought such would 
have been my sister, and I had not been alone — if fate, if 
cruel, inexorable, horrible destiny had not deprived me of 
her as well as all — all that made my childish existence 
paradise. It is so — and I see you again, whom then my 
heart called sister — it is strange." 

" Did you give me that name ]" said Elizabeth. " Ah, if 
you knew the strange ideas I then had of giving you my 
father for your friend, instead of one spoken harshly — per- 
haps unjustly of — " 

As she spoke he grew gloomy again — his eyes drooped, 
and the expression of his face became at first despondent, 
then proud, and even fierce ; it reminded her more forcibly 
than it had ever done before of the boy of Baden — " It is 
better as it is," he continued, " much belter that you do not 
share the evil that pursues me ; you ought not to be humil- 
iated, pressed down — goaded to hatred and contempt. 

" Farewell — I grieve to leave you — yet I feel deeply how 
it is for the best. Hereafter you will acknowledge your 
acquaintance with me, when we meet in a happier hour. 
God preserve you and your dear father, as he will for your 
sake ! Twice we have met — the third time, if sibyls' tales 
are true, is the test of good or evil in our friendship — till 
then, farewell." 

Thus they parted. Had Elizabeth been free from care 
with regard to Falkner, she had regretted the separation 
more, and pondered more over the mysterious wretched- 
ness that darkened the lives of the only two beings, the 
inner emotions of whose souls had been opened to her. 
As it was, she returned to watch and fear beside her fa- 
ther's couch — and scarcely to remember that a few minutes 
before she had been interested by another — so entirely 
were here feelings absorbed by her'aflection and sohcitud© 
for him. 

D 3 



82 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

From this time their homeward journey was more pros- 
perous. They arrived safely at Lyons, and thence pro- 
ceeded to Basle — to take advantage again of river naviga- 
tion ; the motion of a carriage being so inimical to the 
invalid. They proceeded down the Rhine to Rotterdam, 
and crossing the sea, returned at last to England, after an 
absence of four years. 

This journey, though at first begun in terror and danger, 
grew less haza'rdous at each mile they traversed towards 
the North ; and while going down the Rhine, Falkner and 
his adopted daughter spent several tranquil and happj^ hours 
" — comparing the scenery they saw to other and distant 
landscapes — and recalling incidents that had occurred many 
years jvgo. Falkner exerted himself for Elizabeth's sake — 
she had suffered so much, and he had inflicted so much an- 
guish upon her while endeavouring to free himself from the 
burden of life, that he felt remorse at having thus trifled 
with the deepest emotions of her heart — and anxious to 
recall the more pleasurable sensations adapted to her age. 
The listless, yet pleasing feelings attendant on convalscence 
influenced his mind also — and he enjoyed a peace to which 
he had long been a stranger. 

Elizabeth, it is true, had another source of revery besides 
that ministered to her by her father. She often thought of 
Neville ; and though he was sad, the remembrance of him 
was full of pleasure. He had been so kind, so sympathizing, 
so helpful ; besides, there was a poetry in his very gloom 
that added a charm to every thought spent upon him. She 
did not only recall his conversation, but conjectured the 
causes of his sorrow, and felt deeply interested by the 
mystery that hung about him. So young and so unhappy ! 
And he had been long so — he was more miserable when they 
saw him roving wildly among the Alsatian hills. What 
could it mean 1 She strove to recollect what Miss Jervis 
mentioned at that time ; she remembered only that he had 
no mother, and that his father was severe and unkind. 

Yet why, when nature is so full of joyousness, when, at 
Jlie summer season, vegetation basks in beauty and delight, 
and the very clouds seem to enjoy their aerial abode in 
upper sky, why should misery find a home in the mind of 
man ] a misery which the balmy winds will not lull, nor the 
verdant landscape and its winding river dissipate. She 
thought thus as she saw Falkner rechning apart, a cloud 



FALKNER. 63 

gathered on his brow, his piercing eyes fixed in vacancy, as 
if it beheld there a heart-moving tragedy ; but she was ac- 
customed to his melancholy, she had ever known him as a 
man of sorrows; he had lived long before she knew him, 
and the bygone years were filled by events pregnant with 
wretchedness, nay, if he spoke truth, with guilt. But Ne- 
ville, the young, the innocent, who had been struck in boy- 
hood through no fault of his own, nor any act in which he 
bore a part ; was there no remedy for him ] and would not 
friendship, and kindness, and the elastic spirit of youth 
suffice to cure his vrouiid? She remembered that he de- 
clared that he had an aim iu view, in which he resolved to 
succeed, and, succeeding, he should be happy : a noble aim 
doubtless ; for his soft eyes lighted joyously up, and his face 
expressed a glad pride when he prognosticated ultimate 
triumph. Her heart went with him in his efforts ; she prayed 
earnestly for his success, and was as sure as he that Heaven 
would favour an object which she felt certain was generous 
and pure. 

A sigh, a half groan from Falkner, called her to his side, 
while she meditated on these things. Both sutfer, she 
thought ; would that some Imk united them, so that both 
might find relief in the accomplishment of the same re- 
solves ! Little did she think of the real link that existed, 
mysterious, yet adamantine ; that to pray for the success of 
one was to solicit destruction for the other. A dark veil 
was before her eyes, totally impervious ; nor did she know 
that the withdrawing it, as was soon to be, would deliver her 
over to conflicting duties, sad struggles of feeling, and stain 
her life with the dark hues that now, missing her, blotted the 
existence of the two upon earth for whom she was most 
interested. 

They arrived in London. Falkner's fever was gone, but 
his wound was rankling, painful, and even dangerous. The 
bullet had grazed the bone, and this, at first neglected, and 
afterward improperly treated, now betrayed symptoms of 
exfoliation ; his sufferings were great — he bore them pa- 
tiently ; he looked on them as an atonement. He had gone 
out in his remorse to die — he was yet to Uve, broken and 
destroyed ; and if suffered J;o live, was it not for Elizabeth's 
sake 1 and having bound her fate to his, what right had he 
to die 1 The air of London being injurious, and yet it being 
necessary to continue in the vicinity of the most celebrated 
surgeons, they took a pleasant villa on Wimbledon Com- 
mon, situated in the midst of a garden, and presenting to 
the eye that mixture of neatness, seclusion, and comfort 
that renders some of our smaller English country-houses so 
delightful. Elizabeth, despite her wanderings, had a true 
feminine love of home. She busied herself in adding ele- 
gance to their dwelling, by a thousand little arts, wliich 



84 FALKNER. 

seem nothing, and are everything in giving grace and 
cheerfulness to an abode. 

Their hfe became tranquil, and a confidence and friend- 
ship existed between them, the source of a thousand pleas- 
ant conversations and happy hours. One subject, it is true, 
was forbidden ; the name of Neville was never mentioned ; 
perhaps, on that very account, it assumed more power over 
Elizabeth's imagination. A casual intercourse with one, 
however interesting, might have faded into the common 
light of day, had not the silence enjoined kept liim in 
that indistinct, mysterious darkness so favourable to the 
processes of the imagination. On every other subject, 
the so called father and daughter talked with open heart, 
and Falkner was totally unaware of a secret growth of 
unspoken interest which had taken root in separation and 
secrecy. 

Elizabeth, accustomed to fear death for one dearest to 
her, and to contemplate its near approaches so often, had 
something holy and solemn kneaded into the very elements 
of her mind, that gave sublimity to her thoughts, resigna- 
tion to her disposition, and a stirring, inquiring spirit to her 
conversation, which, separated as they were from the busy 
and trivial duties of Hfe, took from the monotony and still- 
ness of their existence, by bringing thoughts beyond the 
world to people the commonplace of each day's routine. 
Falkner had not much of this ; but he had a spirit of obser- 
vation, a ready memory, and a liveliness of expression and 
description which corrected her wilder flights, and gave the 
interest of flesh and blood to her fairy dreams. When they 
read of the heroes of old, or the creations of the poets, she 
dwelt on the moral to be deduced, the theories of life ;md 
death, religion and virtue, therein displayed; while he com- 
pared them to his own experience, criticised their truth, and 
gave pictures of real human nature, either contrasting with, 
or resembling, those presented on the written page. 

Their lives, thus spent, would have been equable and 
pleasant, but for the suff'erings of Falkner ; and as those 
diminished, another evil arose, in his eyes of far more awful 
magnitude. They had resided at Wimbledon about a year, 
Avhen Elizabeth fell ill. Her medical advisers explained 
her malady as the efl'ect of the extreme nervous excitement 
she had gone through during the last years, which, borne 
with a patience and fortitude almost superhuman, had 
meanwhile undermined her physical strength. This was a 
mortal blow to Falkner ; while with self-absorbed, and, he 
now felt, criminal pertinacity, he had sought death, he had 
forgotten the results such acts of his might have on one so 
dear and innocent. He had thought that when she lost 
him, Elizabeth would feel a transitory sorrow ; while new 
scenes, anollier family, and the absence of his griefs, would 



FALKNER. 86 

soon bring comfort. But he lived, and the consequences of 
his resolve to die fell upon her — she was his victun ! there 
was something maddening in the thought. He looked at 
her dear face, grovi^n so pale — viewed her wasting form — 
watched her loss of appetite and nervous tremours with 
an impatient agony that irritated his wound, and brought 
back malady on himself. 

All that the physicians could order for Elizabeth, was 
change of air — added to an intimation that an entirely new 
scene, and a short separation from her father, would be of 
the utmost beneti'. Where could she gol it was not now 
that she drooped — and trembled at every sound, that he 
could restore her to her father's family. No time ought to 
be lost, he was told, and the word consumption mentioned ; 
the deaths of her parents gave a sting to that word, which 
filled him with terror. Something nujst be done immedi- 
ately — what he knew not ; and he gazed on his darling, 
whom he felt that by his own act he had destroyed, with 
an ardour to save that he felt was impotent, and he writhed 
beneath the thought. 

One morning, while Falkner was brooding over these 
miserable ideas, and Elizabeth was vainly trying to assume 
a look of cheerfulness and health, which her languid step 
and pale cheek belied, a carriage entered their quiet 
grounds, and a visiter was announced. It was Lady Cecil. 
Elizabeth had nearly forgotten, nor ever expected to see 
her again — but that lady, whose mind was at ease at the 
period of their acquaintance, and who had been charmed 
by the beauty and virtues of the devoted daughter, had 
never ceased to determine at some time to seek her, and 
renew their acquaintance. She, indeed, never expected to 
see Falkner again, and she often wondered what would be 
his daughter's fate when he died ; she and her family had 
remained abroad till the present spring, when, being in Lon- 
don, she, by Miss Jervis's assistance, learned that he still 
lived, and that they were both at Wimbledon. 

Lady Cecil was a welcome visiter wherever she went, 
for there was an atmosphere of cheerful and kindly warmth 
around her, that never failed to communicate pleasure. 
Falkner, who had not seen her at Leghorn, and had scarcely 
heard her name mentioned, was won at once ; and when 
she spoke with ardent praise of Elizabetli, and looked upon 
her altered appearance with undisguised distress, his heart 
warmed towards her, and he was ready to ask her assist- 
ance in his dilemma. That was offered, however, before 
it was asked — she heard that change of air was recom- 
mended — she guessed that too great anxiety for her father 
had produced her illness — she felt sure that her own pleas- 
ant residence and cheerful family was the best remedy 
that could be administered. 



86 FALKNER. 

"I will not be denied," she said, after having made her 
invitation that both father and daughter should pay her a 
visit. " You must come to me : Lord Cecil is gone to Ire- 
land for two months, to look after his estate there ; and our 
little Julius being weakly, I could not accompany him. I 
have taken a house near Hastings — the air is salubrious, 
the place beautiful — I lead a domestic, quiet life, and I am, 
sure Miss Falkner will soon be well with me." 

As her invitation was urged with warmth and sincerity, 
Falkner did not hesitate to accept it. To a certain degree, 
he modified it, by begging that Elizabeth should accompany 
Lady Cecil, in the first place, alone. As the visit was to be 
for two months, he promised after the first was elapsed to 
join them. He alleged various reasons for this arrange- 
ment ; his real one being, that he had gathered from the 
physicians that they considered a short separation from 
him as essential to the invalid's recovery. She acceded, 
for she was anxious to get well, and hoped that the change 
would restore her. Everything was therefore soon agreed 
upon ; and, two days afterward, the two ladies were on 
their road to Hastings, where Lady Cecil's family already 
was — she having come to town with her husband only, who 
by this time had set out on his Irish tour. 

" I feel convinced that three daj^s of my nursing will 
make you quite well," said Lady Cecil, as they were tOj 
gether in her travelling carriage ; " I wish you to look as 
you did in Italy. One so young, and naturally so healthy, 
will soon recover strength. You overtasked yourself — and 
your energetic mind is too strong for your body ; but re- 
pose, and my care, will restore you. I am sure we shall be 
very happy — my children are dear little angels, and will 
entertain you when you like, and never be in your way. I 
shall be your head nurse — and Miss Jervis, dear odd soul ! 
will act under my orders. The situation of my house is 
enchanting ; and, to add to our family circle, I expect my 
brother Gerard, whom I am sure you will like. Did I ever 
mention him to you 1 perhaps not — but you must like Ge- 
rard — and you will delight him. He is serious — nay, to say 
the truth, sad — but it is a sadness a thousand times more 
interesting than the gayety of commonplace worldly men. 
It is a seriousness full of noble thoughts and aflfectionate 
feelings. I never knew, I never dreamed, that there was a 
creature resembling or to be compared to him in the world, 
till I saw you. Y^ou have the same freedom from worldli- 
ness— the same noble and elevated ideas— feeling for oth- 
ers, and thinking not of the petty circle of ideas that encom- 
passes and presses down every other mind, so that they 
cannot see or feel beyond their Lilliputian selves. 

" In one thing you do not resemble Gerard. Y'ou, though 
quiet, are cheerful ; while he, naturally more vivacious, is 



FALKNER. 87 

melancholy. You look an inquiry, but I cannot tell you the 
cause of my brother's unhappiness ; for his friendship for 
me, which 1 highly prize, depends upon my keeping sa- 
credly the promise I have given never to make his sorrows 
a topic of conversation. All I can say is, that they result 
from a sensibility, and a delicate pride, which is overstrain- 
ed, yet which makes me love him ten thousand times more 
dearly. He is better now than he used to be, and I hope 
that time and reason will altogether dissipate the vain re- 
grets that imbitter his life. Some new, some strong feeling 
may one day spring up and scatter the clouds. I pray for 
this ; for though I love him tenderly, and sympathize in his 
grief, yet I think it excessive and deplorable ; and, alas ! 
never to be remedied, though it may be forgotten." 

Elizabeth listened with some surprise to hear of another 
so highly praised, and yet unhappy ; while in her heart she 
thought, " Though this sound like one to be compared to 
Neville, yet, when I see him, how I shall scorn the very 
thought of finding another as high-minded, kind, and inter- 
esting as he !" She gave no utterance, however, to this re- 
flection, and merely asked, " Is your brother older than you V 

" No, younger — he is only two-and-twenty ; but passion 
and grief, endured almost since infancy, prevented him 
when a child from being childish ; and now he has all that 
isJ^autiful in youth, with none of its follies. Pardon my 
eiBusiasm ; but you will grow enthusiastic also when you 
see Gerard." 

1^ I doubt that," thought Elizabeth ; " my enthusiasm is 
speiit, and 1 should hale myself if I could think of another 
as of Neville." This latent thought made the excessive 
praises which Lady Cecil bestowed on her bi'otlier sound 
almost distastefully. Her thoughts flew back to Marseilles ; 
to his sedulous attentions — their parting interview — and 
fixed at last upon the strange emotion Falkner had display- 
ed when seeing him ; and his desire that his name even 
should not be mentioned. Again she wondered what this 
meant, and her thoughts became abstracted ; Lady Cecil 
conjectured that she was tired, and permitted her to indulge 
in her silent reveries. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Lady Cecil's housu vas situated on the heights that over- 
look Fairlight iiay, near Hastings. Any one wlio has vis- 
ited that coast knows the pecuUar beauty of the rocks, 
downs, and groves of Fairlight. The oak, which clothes 



m 
\ 

88 FALKNER. 

each dell, and, in a dwarf and clipped state, forms the hedges, 
imparts a richness not only to the wide landscape, but to 
each broken nook of ground and sequestered corner ; the 
fern, which grows only in contiguity to the oak, giving a 
wild forest appearance to the glades. The mansion itself 
was large, convenient, and cheerful. The grounds were 
extensive ; and from points of view you could see the wide 
sea — the more picturesque baj'^ — and the undulating, varied 
shore that curves in towards Winchelsea. It was impossible 
to conceive a scene more adapted to revive the spirits, and 
give variety and amusement to the thoughts. 

Elizabeth grew better, as by a miracle, the very day after 
her arrival ; and within a week a sensible change had taken 
place in her appearance, as well as her health. The roses 
bloomed in her cheeks — her step regained its elasticity — 
her spirits rose even to gayety. All was new and anima- 
tmg. Lady Cecil's beautiful and spirited children delighted 
her. It was a domestic scene, adorned by elegance and 
warmed by affection. Elizabeth had, despite her attach- 
ment to her father, often felt the weight of loneliness when 
left by him at Zante ; or when his illness threw her back 
entirely on herself. Now on each side there were sweet, 
kind faces — playful, tender caresses — and a laughing mirth, 
cheering in its perfect innocence. 

The only annoyance she suffered arose from the great 
influx of visiters. Having lived a life disjoined from the 
crowd, she soon began to conceive the hermitess, delight 
in loneliness, and the vexation of being intruded upon by 
the frivolous and indifferent. She found that she loved 
friends, but hated acquaintance. Nor was this strange. 
Her mind was quite empty of conventional frivohties. She 
had not been at a ball twice in her life, and then only when 
a mere child ; yet all had been interest and occupation. To 
unbend with her was to converse with a friend — to play 
with children — or to enjoy the scenes of nature witli one 
who felt their beauties with her. "It was hard labour," 
she often said, " to talk with people with whom she had not 
one pursuit — one taste in common." Often when a ba- 
rouche, crowded with gay bonnets, appeared, she stole away. 
Lady Cecil could not understand this. Brought up in the 
thick of fashionable life, no person of her clique was a 
stranger; and if any odd people called on her — still they 
were in some way entertaining; or if bores — bores are an 
integral portion of life, not to be shaken off with impunity, 
for, as oysters, they often retain the fairest pearls in close 
conjunction. "You are wrong," said Lady Cecil. "You 
must not be a savage — I cannot have mercy on you ; this little 
jagged point in your character must be worn off— you must 
be as smooth and glossy in exterior as you are incalculably 
precious in the substance of your mind." 



FALKNER. ' 89, 

Elizabetli smiled ; but not the less when a sleek, self- 
satisfied dowager, all smiles to those she knew — all imper- 
tinent scrutiny to the unknown — and a train of ugly old wo- 
men in embryo— called, for the present, misses — followed, 
each honouring her with an insolent stare. " There was a 
spirit in her feet," and she could not stay, but hurried out 
into the woodland dells, and with a book, her own reveries, 
and the beautiful objects around her, as her companions; 
and feeling ecstatically happy, both at what she possessed, 
and what she had escaped from. 

Thus it was one day that she deserted Lady Cecil, who 
was smiling sweetly on a red-faced gouty squire, and lis- 
tening placidly to his angry wife, who was complaining that 
her name had been put too low down in some charity list. 
She stole out from the glass-door that opened on the lawn, 
and, delighted that her escape was secure, hurried to join 
the little group of children whom she saw speeding beyond 
into the park. 

" Without a bonnet. Miss Falkner !" cried Miss Jervis. 

" Yes ; and the sun is warm. You are not using your 
parasol, Miss Jervis ; lend it me, and let us go into the 
shade." Then, taking her favourite child by the hand, she 
said, " Come, let us pay visits. Mamma has got some vis- 
iters ; so we will go and seek for some. There is my Lord 
Deer and pretty Lady Doe. Ah ! pretty Miss Fawn, what 
a nice dappled frock j^ou have on !" 

The child was enchanted ; and they wandered on through 
the glades, among the fern, into a shady dell, quite at the other 
side of the park, and sat down beneath a spreading oak-tree. 
By this time they had got into a serious talk of where the 
clouds where going, and where the first tree came from, 
when a gentleman, who had entered the park gates unper- 
ceived, rode by, and pulling up his horse suddenly, with a 
start, and an exclamation of surprise, he and Elizabeth rec- 
ognised each other. 

" Mr. Neville !" she cried, and her heart was full in a mo- 
ment of a thousand recollections — of the gratitude she owed 
— their parting scene — and the many conjectures she had 
formed about him since they separated. He looked more 
than pleased ; and the expression of gloomy abstraction 
which his face too often wore was lighted up by a smile that 
went straight to the heart. He sprung from his horse, gave 
the rein to his groom, and joining Elizabeth and her little 
companion, walked towards the house. 

Explanations and surprise followed. He was the praised, 
expected brother of Lady Cecil. How strange that Elizabeth 
had not discovered this relationship at Marseilles ! and yet, 
at that time, she had scarcely a tliought to spare beyond 
Falkner. His recovery surprised Neville, and he expressed 
the warmest pleasure. He looked with tenderness and ad- 
s' 



90 FALKNER. 

miration at the soft and beautiful creature beside him, whose 
courage and unwearied assiduity had preserved her father's 
life. It was a bewitching contrast to remember her face 
shadowed by fear — her vigilant, anxious eyes fixed on her 
father's wan countenance — her thoughts filled with one sad 
fear ; and now to see it beaming in youthful beauty, anima- 
ted by the happy, generous feelings which Avere her nature. 
Yet this very circumstance had a sad reaction upon Neville. 
His heart still bore the burden of its sorrow, and he felt 
more sure of the sympathy of the afflicted moui-ner, than of 
one who looked untouched by any adversity. The senti- 
ment was transitory, for Elizabeth, with that delicate tact 
which is natural to a feeling mind, soon gave such a sub- 
dued tone to their conversation as made it accord with the 
mysterious unhappiness of her companion. 

When near the house, they were met by Lady Cecil, who 
smiled at what she deemed a sudden intimacy naturally 
sprung between two who had so many qualities in common. 
Lady Cecil really believed them made for each other, and 
had been anxious to bring them together ; for, being pas- 
sionately attached to her brother, and grieving at the mel- 
ancholy that darkened his existence, she thought she had 
found a cure in her new friend ; and that the many charms 
of Elizabeth would cause him to forget the misfortunes on 
which he so vainly brooded. She Avas still more pleased 
when an explanation was given, and she found that they 
were already intimate — already acquainted with the claims 
each possessed to the other's admiration and interest ; and 
each naturally drawn to seek in the other that mirror of their 
better nature, that touch of kindred soul, which showed that 
they were formed to share existence, or, separated, to pine 
eternally for a reunion. 

Lady Cecil with playful curiosity questioned why they 
had concealed their being acquainted. Elizabeth could not 
well tell ; she had thought much of Neville, but first the 
prohibition of Falkner, and then the excessive praises Lady 
Cecil bestowed upon her brother, chained her tongue. The 
one had accustomed her to preserve silence on a subject 
deeply interesting to her ; the other jarred with any confi- 
dence, for there would have been a comparing Neville with 
the Gerard which was indeed himself ; and Elizabeth neither 
wished to have her friend depreciated, nor to struggle 
against the enthusiasm felt by the lady for her brother. The 
forced silence of to-day on such a subject renders the silence 
of to-morrow almost a matter of necessity ; and she was 
ashamed to mention one she had not already named. It 
may be remarked that this sort of shame arises in all dispo- 
sitions ; it is the seal and symbol of love. Shame of any 
kind was not akin to the sincere and ingenuous nature of 
Elizabeth ; but love, though young and unacknowledged, 



* FALKNER. 91 

will tyrannise from the first, and produce emotions never 
felt before. 

Neville hoarded yet more avariciously the name of Eliza- 
beth. There was delight in the very thought of her ; but he 
shrunk from being questioned. He had resolved to avoid 
her ; for, till his purpose was achieved, and the aim of his 
existence fulfilled, he would not yield to the charms of love, 
which he felt hovered round the beautiful Elizabeth. Sworn 
to a sacred duty, no self-centred or self- prodigal passion 
should come between him and its accomplishment. But, 
meeting her thus unawares, he could not continue guarded ; 
his very soul drank in gladness at the sight of her. He re- 
marked with joy the cheerfulness that had replaced her 
cares ; he looked upon her open brow, her eyes of mingled 
tenderness and fire, her figure, free and graceful in every 
motion, and felt that she reahzed eveiy idea he had formed 
of feminine beauty. He fancied, indeed, that he looked upon 
her as a picture ; that his heart was too absorbed by its own 
griefs to catch a thought beyond ; he was unmindful, while 
he gazed, of that emanation, that shadow of the shape, 
which the Latin poet tells us flows from every object, that 
impalpable impress of her form and being, which the air 
took and then folded round him, so that all he saw entered, 
as it were, into his own substance, and became mingled up 
for evermore with his identity. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Three or four days passed in great tranquillity; and Lady 
Cecil rejoiced that the great medicine acted so well on the 
rankling malady of her brother's soul. It was the leafy 
month of June, and nature was as beautiful as these lovely 
beings themselves, who enjoyed her sweets with enthusias- 
tic and new-sprung dehght. They sailed on the sunny sea 
— or lingered by the summer brooks, and among the rich 
woodlands — ignorant why all appeared robed in a brightness 
which before they had never observed. Elizabeth had lit- 
tle thought beyond the present hour — except to wish for 
the time when Falkner was to join them. Neville rebelled 
somewhat against the new law he obeyed, but it was a 
slothful rebellion — till on the day he was awakened from his 
daream of peace. 

One morning, Eliza:beth, on entering the breakfast-room, 
found Lady Cecil leaning discontentedly by the window, 
restijig her cheek on her hand, ajid her brow overcast. 

" He is gone," she exclaimed ; " it is too provoking ! Ge- 



92 FALKNER. 

rard is gone ! A letter came, and I could not detain him — 
it will take him probably to the other end of the kingdom — 
and who knows when we shall see him again !" 

They sat down to breakfast, but Lady Cecil Avas full of 
discontent. " It is not only that he is gone," she contin- 
ued, " but the cause of his going is full of pain and care — 
and, unfortunately, you cannot syrapatliize with me, for I 
have not obtained his consent to confide his hapless story 
to you. Would that I might ! — you would feel for him — for 
us all." 

" He has been unhappy since childhood," observed Eliza- 
beth. 

" He has, it is true ; but how did you learn that 1 has he 
ever told you anything V 

" I saw him, many years ago, at Baden. How wild, how 
sullen he was — unlike his present self ! for then there was 
a violence and a savageness in his gloom, which has van- 
ished." 

" Poor boy !" said Lady Cecil ; " I remember well — and it 
is a pleasure to think that I am, to a great degree, the cause 
of the change. He had no friend at that time — none to 
love — to listen to him, and foster hopes which, however 
vain, diminish his torments, and are all the cure he can ob- 
tain, till he forgets them. But what can this mean?" she 
continued, starting up; "what can bring him backl It is 
Gerard returned !" 

She threw open the glass door, and went out to meet him 
as he rode up the avenue — he threw himself from his horse, 
and advanced, exclaiming, " Is my father here]" 

" Sir Boyville ? No ; is he coming ]" 

" Oh yes ! we shall see him soon. I met a servant with 
a letter sent express — the post was too slow — he will be 
here soon ; he left London last night — you know with what 
speed he travels." 

" But why this sudden visit?" 

" Can you not guess ? He received a letter from the 
same person — containing the same account ; he knew I was 
here — he comes to balk my purpose, to forbid, to storm, to 
reproach ; to do all that he has done a thousand times be- 
fore, with the same success." 

Neville looked flushed and disturbed ; his face, usually 
" more in sorrow than in anger," now expressed the latter 
emotion, mingled with scorn and resolution ; he gave the 
letter he had received to Lady Cecil. " I am wrong, perhaps, 
in returning at his bidding, since I do not mean ultimately to 
obey — yet he charges me on my duty to hear him once 
again; so I am come to hear — to listen to the old war of 
his vanity with what he calls my pride — his vindictiveness 
with my sense of duty — his vituperation of her I worship— 
and I must bear this !" 



FALKNER. 93 

Lady Cecil read the letter, and Neville pressed Eliza- 
beth's hand, and besousfht her excuse, while she, much be- 
wildered, was desirous to leave the room. At this moment 
the noise of a carriage was heard on the gravel. " He is 
here," said Neville ; " see him first, Sophia, tell him how 
resolved I am — how right in my resolves. Try to prevent 
a struggle, as disgraceful as vain; and most so to my fa- 
ther, since he must suffer defeat." 

With a look of much distress, Lady Cecil left the room 
to receive her new guest ; while Elizabeth stole out by an- 
other door into the grove, and mused under the shady cov- 
ert on what had passed. She felt curious, yet saddened. 
Concord, affection, and sympathy are so delightful, that all 
that disturbs the harmony is eminently distasteful. Family 
contentions are worst of all. Yet she would not prejudge 
Neville. He felt, in its full bitterness, the pain of disobey- 
ing his parent ; and whatever motive led to such a mode of 
action, it hung like an eclipse over his life. What it might 
be slie could not guess ; but it was no ignoble, self-centred 
passion. Hope and joy were sacrificed to it. She remem- 
bered him as she first saw him, a boy driven to wildness by 
a sense of injury ; she remembered him when reason and 
his better nature had subdued the selfish portion of his feel- 
ing — grown kind as a woman — active, friendly, and sympa- 
thizing, as few men are ; she recollected him by Falkner's 
sick couch, and when he took leave of her, auguring that 
they should meet in a happier hour. That hour had not yet 
come, and she confessed to herself that she longed to know 
the cause of his unhappiness ; and wondered whether, by 
counsel or sympathy, she could bring any cure. 

She Avas plunged in revery, walking slowly beneath the 
forest trees, when she heard a quick step brushing the dead 
leaves and fern, and Neville joined her. " I have escaped," 
he cried, " and left poor Sophy to bear the scoldings of an 
unjust and angry man. I could not stay — it was not cow- 
ardice — but I have recollections joined to such contests, 
that make my heart sick. Besides, I should reply — and I 
would not willingly forget that he is my father." 

" It must be indeed painful," said EUzabeth, " to quarrel 
with, to disobey a parent." 

" Yet there are motives that might, that must excuse 
it. Do you remember the character of Hamlet, Miss F'alk- 
nerV 

" Perfectly — it is the imbodying of the most refined, the 
most genuine, and yet the most harrowing feelings and sit- 
uation, that the imagination ever conceived." 

" I have read that play," said Neville, " till each word 
seems instinct with a message direct to my heart — as if my 
own emotions gave a conscious soul to every line. Hamlet 
was called upon to avenge a father — in execution of his 



94 FALKNER. 

task he did not spare a dearer, a far more sacred name — if 
he used no daggers with his mother, he spoke them; nor 
winced, though she writhed beneath his hand. Mine is a 
Ughter, yet a hoher duty. I would vindicate a mother — 
without judging my father — without any accusation against 
him, I would establish her innocence. Is this blameable ? 
What would you do, Miss Falkner, if your father were ac- 
cused of a crime !" 

" My father and a crime ! Impossible !" exclaimed Eliza- 
beth ; for, strange to say, all the self-accusations of Falkner 
fell empty on her ear. It was a virtue in him to be con- 
science-stricken for an error ; of any real guilt she would 
have pledged her life that he was free. 

" Yes — impossible !" cried Neville — " doubtless it is so ; 
but did you hear his name stigmatized — shame attend your 
very kindred to him — what would you do ? — defend him — 
prove his innocence — would you not V 

"A life were well sacrificed to such a duty." 

"And to that very duty mine is devoted. In childhood I 
rebelled against the accusation with vain, but earnest indig- 
nation ; now I am calmer because I am more resolved ; 
but I will yield to no impediment — be stopped by no difficulty 
— not even by my father's blind commands. My mother ! 
dear name — dearer for the ills attached to it — my angel 
mother shall find an unfaltering champion in her son. 

" You must not be angry," he continued, in reply to her 
look of wonder, " that I mention circumstances which it is 
customary to slur over and conceal. It is shame for me to 
speak — for you to hear — my mother's name. That very 
thought gives a keener edge to my purpose. God knows 
what miserable truth is hidden by the veils which vanity, 
revenge, and selfishness have drawn around my mother's 
fate ; but that truth — though it be a bleeding one — shall be 
disclosed, and her innocence be made as clear as the sun 
now shining above us. 

" It is dreadful, very dreadful, to be told — to be persuaded 
that the idol of one's thoughts is corrupt and vile. It is no 
new story, it is true — wives have been false to their husbands 
ere now, and some have found excuses, and sometimes 
been justified ; it is the manner makes the thing. That my 
mother should have left her happy home — which, under her 
guardian eye, was paradise — have deserted me, her child, 
Avhom she so fondly loved — and who, even in that uncon- 
scious age, adored her — and her poor little girl, who died 
neglected — that year after year she has never inquired after 
us — nor sent nor sought a word — while following a stran- 
ger's fortune through the world ! That she whose nightly 
sleep was broken by her tender cares — whose voice so 
often lulled me, and whose every thought and act was pure 
as an angel's — that she, tempted' by the arch liend, strayed 



FALKNER. 95 

from hell for her destmction, should leave us all to misery, 
and her own name to obloquy. No ! no ! The earth is yet 
sheltered by heaven, and sweet and good things abide in it 
— and she was, and is, among them sweetest and best !" 

Neville was carried away by his feelings — while Elizabeth, 
overpowered by his vehemence — astonished by the wild, 
strange tale he disclosed, listened in silence, yet an eloquent 
silence — for her eyes filled with tears — and her heart burned 
in her bosom with a desire to show how entirely she shared 
his deep emotion. 

" I have made a vow," he continued — " it is registered in 
heaven ; and each night as I lay my head on my pillow I 
renew it ; and beside you — the best of earthly things now 
that my dear mother is gone, I repeat — that I devote my life 
to vindicate her who gave me life ; and my selfish, revenge- 
ful father is here to impede — to forbid — but I trample on 
such obstacles,' as on these dead leaves beneath our feet. 
You do not speak, Miss Falkner — did you ever hear of Mrs. 
Neville V 

" I have spent all my life out of England," replied Eliza- 
beth, " yet 1 have some recollection." 

" I do not doubt it — to the ends of the earth the base- 
minded love to carry the tale of slander and crime. You 
have heard of Mrs. Neville, who, for the sake of a stranger, 
deserted her home, her husband, her helpless children — and 
has never been heard of since ; who, unheard and unde- 
fended, was divorced from her husband — whose miserable 
son was brought to witness against her. It is a story well 
fitted to raise vulgar wonder — vulgar abhorrence ; do you 
wonder that I, who since I was nine years old have slept 
and waked on the thought, should have been filled with hate, 
rancour, and every evil passion, till the blessed thought 
dawned on my soul, that I would prove her innocence, and 
that she should be avenged — for this I live. 

" And now I must leave you. I received yesterday a let- 
ter which promises a clew to guide me through this labyr- 
inth; wherever it leads, there I follow. My father has come 
to impede me — but I have, after using unavailing remon- 
strance, told him that I will obey a sense of duty inde- 
pendent of parental authority. I do not mean to see him 
again — I now go — but I could not resist the temptation of 
seeing you before I went, and proving to you the justice of 
my resolves. If you wish for further explanation, ask So- 
phia — tell her that she maj' relate all; there is not a 
thought or act of my life with which I would have you un- 
acquainted, if you will deign to listen." 

" Thank you for this permission," said Elizabeth ; " Lady 
Cecil is desirous, I know, of telling me the cause of a mel- 
ancholy which, good and kind as you are, you ought not to 
suffer. Alas! this is a miserable world: and when I hear 



96 PALKNER, 

of your sorrows, and remember my dear father's, I think 
that I must be stone to feel no more than I do ; and yet, I 
would give my life to assist you in your task." 

" I know well how generous you are, though I cannot 
now express how mj' heart thanks you. I will return be- 
fore you leave my sister; wherever fate and duty drives 
me, I will see you again." 

They returned towards the house, and he left her ; his 
horse was already saddled, and standing at the door ; he 
was on it, and gone in a moment. 

Elizabeth felt herself as in a dream when he was gone, 
yet her heart and wishes went with him ; for she believed 
the truth of all he said, and revered the enthusiasm of af- 
fection that impelled his actions. There was something 
wild and proud in his manner, which forcibly reminded her 
of the boy of sixteen, who had so much interested her 
girlish mind ; and his expressions, indignant and passionate 
as they were, yet vouched, by the very sentiment they con- 
veyed, for the justice of his cause. " Gallant, noble-hearted 
being ! God assist your endeavours ! God and every good 
spirit that animates this world." Thus her soul spoke as 
she saw him ride off ; and, turning into the house, a half in- 
voluntary feeling made her take up the volume of Shaks- 
peare containing Hamlet ; and she was soon buried, not only 
in the interest of the drama itself, but in the various emo- 
tions it excited by the association it now bore to one she 
loved more even than she knew. It was nothing strange 
that Neville, essentially a dreamer and a poet, should have 
identified himself with the Prince of Denmark ; while the 
very idea that he took to himself, and acted on senti- 
ments thus high-souled and pure, adorned him yet more in 
her eyes, endowing him in ample measure with that ideal- 
ity which the young and noble love to bestow on the ob- 
jects of their attachment. 

After a short time, she was interrupted by Lady Cecil, 
who looked disturbed and vexed. She said little, except to 
repine at Gerard's going and Sir Boyvill's stay — he also 
was to depart the following morning : but Sir Boyvill was a 
man who made his presence felt disagreeably, even when it 
was limited to a few hours. Strangers acknowledged this ; 
no one liked the scornful, morose old man ; and a near con- 
nexion, who was open to so many attacks, and sincerely 
loved one whom Sir Boyvill pretended most to depreciate, 
was even more susceptible to the painful feelings he always 
contrived to spread round him. To despise everybody, to 
contradict everybody with marks of sarcasm and contempt, 
to set himself up for an idol, and yet to scorn his worship- 
pers ; these were the prominent traits of his character, 
added to a galled and sore spirit, which was for ever taking 
offence, which discerned an attack in every word, and was 



PALKNER. 97 

on the alert to repay these fancied injuries with real and 
undoubted insult. He had been a man of fashion, and re- 
tained as much good breeding as was compatible with a 
techy and revengeful temper ; this was his only merit. 

He was nearly seventy years of age, remarkably well 
preserved, but with strongly-marked features, and a coun- 
tenance deeply lined, set off by a young-looking wig, wliich 
took all venerableness from his appearance, without bestow- 
ing juvenility ; his hps were twisted into a sneer, and there 
was something in his evident vanity that might have pro- 
voked ridicule, but that traces of a violent, unforgiving tem- 
per prevented him from being merely despicable, while they 
destroyed every particle of compassion with which he 
might have been regarded ; for he was a forlorn old man, 
separating himself from those alUed to him by blood or 
connexion, excellent as they were. His only pleasure had 
been in society ; secluding himself from that, or presenting 
himself only in crowds, where he writhed to find that he 
went for nothing, he was miserable, yet not to be comforted, 
for the torments he endured were integral portions of his 
own nature. 

He looked surprised to see Elizabeth, and was at first 
very civil to her, with a sort of oldfashioned gallantry 
which, had it been good-humoured, might have amused, but, 
as it was, appeared forced, misplaced, and rendered its ob- 
ject very uncomfortable. Whatever Lady Cecil said, he 
contradicted. He made disagreeable remarks about her 
children, prophesying in them so much future torment ; and 
when not personally impertinent, amused them by recapit- 
ulating all the most scandalous stories rife in London of 
unfaithful wives and divided families, absolutely gloating 
with delight, when he narrated anything peculiarly disgrace- 
ful. After half an hour, Elizabeth quite hated him ; and he 
extended the same sentiment to her on her bestowing a 
meed of praise on his son. " Yes," he said, in reply, 
" Gerard is a very pleasant person ; if I said he was half 
madman, half fool, I should certainly say too much, and ap- 
pear an unkind father; but the sort of imbecility that 
characterizes his understanding is, I think, only equalled by 
his self-willed defiance of all laws which society has estab- 
lished ; in conduct he very much resembles a lunatic armed 
with a weapon of offence, which he does not fear himself, 
and deals about on those unfortunately connected with him, 
with the same indifference to wounds." 

On this speech, Lady Cecil coloured and rose from the 
table, and her friend gladly followed, leaving Sir Boyvill 
to his solitary wine. Never had Elizabeth experienced be- 
fore the intolerable weight of an odious person's society — 
she was stunned. " We have but one resource," said Lady 
Cecil ; " you must sit down to the piano. Sir Boyvill is 
9 E 



98 FALKNER. 

too polite not to entreat you to play on, and too weary not 
to fall asleep; he is worse than ever." 

" But he is your father !" cried Elizabeth, astonished. 

" No, thank Heaven !" said Lady Cecil. " What could 
have put that into your head ] Oh, I see — I call Gerard 
my brother. Sir Boyvill married my poor mother, who is 
since dead. We are only connected — I am happy to say — ■ 
there is no drop of his blood in my veins. But 1 hear him 
coming. Do play something of Herz. The noise will 
drown every other sound, and even astonish my father-in- 
law." 

The evening was quickly over, for Sir Boyvill retired 
early ; the next morning he was gone, and the ladies 
breathed freely again. It is impossible to attempt to de- 
scribe the sort of moral nightmare the presence of such a 
man produces. " Do you remember in Madame de Sevig- 
ne's Letters," said Lady Cecil, " where she observes that 
disagreeable society is better than good — because one is so 
pleased to get rid of if? In this sense. Sir Boyvill is the 
best company in the whole world. We will take a long 
drive to-day, to get rid of the last symptoms of the Sir 
Boyvill fever." 

" And you will tell me what all this mystery means," 
said Elizabeth. " Mr. Neville gave some hints yesterday ; 
but referred me to you. You may tell me all." 

" Yes ; I am aware," replied Lady Cecil. " This one 
good, at least, I have reaped from Sir BoyvilFs angry visit. 
I am permitted to explain to you the causes of our discord, 
and of dear Gerard's sadness. I shall win your sympathy 
for him, and exculpate us both. It is a mournful tale — full 
of unexplainable mystery — shame — and dreaded ill. It fills 
me perpetually with wonder and regret ; nor do I see any 
happy termination, except in the oblivion, in which I wish 
that it was buried. Here is the carriage. We will not 
take any of the children with us, that we may suffer no in- 
terruption." 

Elizabeth's interest was deeply excited, and she was as 
eager to listen as her friend to tell. The story outlasted a 
long drive. It was ended in the dusky twilight — as they sat 
after dinner, looking out on the summer woods — while the 
stars came out twinkling amid the foliage of the trees — 
and the deer kept close to graze. The hour was still— and 
was rendered solemn by a tale as full of heartfelt sorrow 
and generous enthusiasm as ever won maiden's attention, 
and bespoke her favour for him who loved and suffered. 



FALKNER. 99 



CHAPTER XVI. 



Ladt Cecil began : — 

" 1 have already told you, that though I call Gerard my 
brother, and he possesses my sisterly affection, we are only 
connexions by marriage, and not the least related in blood. 
His father married my mother ; but Gerard is the offspring of 
a former marriage, as I am also. Sir Boyvill's first wife is 
the unfortunate lady who is the heroine of my tale. 

" Sir Boyvill, then Mr. Neville, for he inherited his bar- 
onetcy only a few years ago, had advanced beyond middle 
age when he first married. He was a man of the world, 
and of pleasure ; and being also clever, handsome, and rich, 
had great success in the circles of fashion. He was often in- 
volved in liaisons with ladies, whose names were rife among 
the last generation for loving notoriety and amusement 
belter than duty and honour. As he made a considerable 
figure, he conceived that he had a right'to entertain a high 
opinion of himself, and not without some foundation ; his 
good sayings were repeated ; his songs were set to music, 
and sung with enthusiasm in his own set — he was courted 
and feared. Favoured by women, imitated by men, he 
reached the zenith of a system, any connexion with which 
is considered as enviable. 

" He was some five-and-forty when he fell in love, and 
married. Like many dissipated men, he had a mean idea 
of female virtue — and especially disbelieved that any por- . 
tion of it was to be found in London ; so he married a country 
girl, without fortune, but with beauty and attractions suffi- 
cient to justify his choice. I never saw his lady ; but sev- 
eral of her early friends have described her to me. She 
was something like Gerard — yet how unlike I In the colour 
of the eyes and hair, and the formation of the features, they 
resembled; but the expression was wholly different. Her 
clear complexion was tinged by a pure blood, that ebbed 
and flowed rapidly in her veins, driven by the pulsations of 
her soul, rather than of her body. Her large dark eyes 
were irresistibly brilliant ; and opened their lids on the 
spectator with an effect such as the sun has, when it drops 
majestically below a heavy cloud, and dazzles the beholder 
with its unexpected beams. She was vivacious — nay, wild 
of spirit; but tliuugh raised far above the dull monotony of 
common life by her exuberant joyousness of soul, yet every 
thought and act was ruled by a pure unsullied heart. Her 
impulses were keen and imperative ; her sensibility, true to 
the touch of nature, was tremblingly alive ; but their mor© 



100 FALKNER. 

dangerous tendencies were guarded by excellent principles, 
and a truth never shadowed by a cloud. Her generous and 
confiding heart might be duped — might spring forward too 
eagerly — and she might be imprudent ; but she was never 
false. An ingenuous confession of error, if ever she fell 
into it, purged away all suspicion that anything mysterious 
or forbidden lurked in her most thouglitless acts. Other 
Avomen, who, like her, are keenly sensitive, and who are 
driven by ungovernable spirits to do what they afterward 
repent, aad are endowed, as she was, with an aptitude to 
shame when rebuked, guard their dignity or their fears by 
falsehood ; and while their conduct is essentially innocent, 
immesh themselves in such a web of deceit, as not only ren- 
ders them absolutely criminal in the eyes of those who de- 
tect tliem, but in the end hardens and perverts their better 
nature. Alithea Neville never sheltered herself from the 
consequences of her faults ; rather she met them too eagerly, 
acknowledged a venial error with too much contrition, and 
never rested till she had laid her heart bare to her friend and 
judge, and vindicated its every impulse. To this admirable 
frankness, soft tenderness, and heart-cheering gayety was 
added a great store of common sense. Her fault, if fault it 
could be called, was a too earnest craving for the sympathy 
and affection of those she loved; to obtain this, she was 
unwearied, nay, prodigal, in her endeavours to please and 
serve. Her generosity was a ready prompter, while her 
sensibility enlightened her. She sought love, and not ap- 
plause ; and she obtained both from all who knew her. To 
sum up all with the mention of a defect — though she could 
feel the dignity which an adherence to the dictates of duty 
imparts, yet sometimes going wrong — sometimes wounded 
by censure, and always keenly alive to blame, she had a 
good deal of timidity in her character. She was so suscep- 
tible to pain, that she feared it too much, too agonizingly ; 
and this terror of meeting anything harsh or grating in her 
path rendered her too diffident of herself — too submissive 
to authority — too miserable, and too yielding, when any- 
thing disturbed the harmony with which she desired to be 
surrounded. 

" It was these last qualities, probably, that led her to ac- 
cept Mr. Neville's offer. Her father wished it, and she 
obeyed. He was a retired lieutenant in the navy. Sir 
Boyvill got him raised to the rank of post captain ; and what 
naval officer but would feel unbounded gratitude for such a 
faA'Our ! He was appointed to a ship — sailed — and fell in an 
engagement not many months after his daughter's marriage 
— grateful, even in his last moments, that he died command- 
ing the deck of a man-of-war. Meanwhile his daughter 
bore the effects of his promotion in a less gratifying way. 
Yet, at first, she loved and esteemed her husband. lie was 



FALKNER. 101 

not then what he is now. He was handsome ; and his 
good-breeding had the pohsh of the day. He was popular, 
through a sort of Uveliness which passes for wit, though 
it was rather a conventional ease in conversation than the 
sparkle of real intellect. Besides, he loved her to idolatry. 
Whatever he is now, still vehemence of passion forms his 
characteristic ; and though the selfishness of his disposition 
gave an evil bias even to his love, yet it was there, and for 
a time it shed its delusions over his real character. While 
her artless and sweet caresses could create smiles — while 
he played the slave at her feet, or folded her in his arms 
with genuine and undisguised transport, even his darkei 
nature was adorned by the, to him, ahen and transitory 
magic of love. 

" But marriage too soon changed Sir Boyvill for the 
worse. Close intimacy disclosed the distortions of his 
character. He was a vain and a selfish man. Both qualities 
rendered him exacting in the extreme ; and the first gave birth 
to the most outrageous jealousy. Alithea was too ingen- 
uous for him to be able to entertain suspicions; but his 
jealousy was nourished by the difference of their age and 
temper. She was nineteen — in the first bloom of loveliness 
— in the freshest spring of youthful spirits — too innocent to 
suspect his doubts — too kind in her most joyous hour to 
fancy that she could offend. He was a man of the world — 
a thousand times had seen men duped and women deceive. 
He did not know of the existence of a truth as spotless and 
uncompromising as existed in Alithea's bosom. He ima- 
gined that he was marked out as the old husband of a young 
wife ; he feared that she would learn that she might have 
married more happily ; and, desirous of engrossing her all 
to himself, a smile spent on another was treason to the ab- 
solute nature of his rights. At first she was blind to his 
bad qualities. A thousand times he frowned when she was 
gay — a thousand times ill-humour and cutting reproofs were 
the results of her appearing charming to others, before she 
discovered the selfish and contemptible nature of his pas- 
sion, and became aware that, to please him, she must blight 
and uproot all her accomplishments, all her fascinations ; 
that she must for ever curb her wish to spread happiness 
around ; that she, the very soul of generous, unsuspecting 
goodness, must become cramped in a sort of bed of Pro- 
crustes, now having one portion lopped off, and then an- 
other, till the maimed and half-alive remnant should resem- 
ble the soulless, niggard tyrant, whose eveiy thought and 
feeling cenired in his Lilliputian self. That she did at last 
make this discovery, cannot be doubted ; though she never 
disclosed her disappointment, nor complained of the tyranny 
from which she suffered. She grew heedful not to displease, 
guarded in her behaviour to others, and so accommodated 
9* 



102 FALKNER. 

her manner to his wishes, as showed that she feared, but 
concealed that she no longer esteemed him. A new reserve 
sprang up in her character, which, after all, was not reserve ; 
for it was only the result of her fear to give pain, and of her 
unalterable principles. Had she spoken of her husband's 
faults, it would have been to himself — but she had no spirit 
of governing — and quarrelling and contention were the antip- 
odes of her nature. If, indeed, this silent yielding to her 
husband's despotism was contrary to her original frankness, 
it was a sacrifice made to what she esteemed her duty, 
and never went beyond the silence which best becomes the 
injured. 

" It cannot be doubted that she was alive to her husband's 
faults. Generous, she was restrained by his selfishness ; 
enthusiastic, she was chilled by his M'orldly wisdom ; sym- 
pathetic, she was rebuked by a jealousy that demanded every 
feeling. She waslike apoorbird, that with untired wing would 
mount gayly to the skies, when on each side the wires of the 
aviary impede its flight. Still it was her principle that we 
ought not to endeavour to form a destiny for ourselves, but 
to act well our part on the scene where Providence has 
placed us. She reflected seriously, and perhaps sadl3S for 
the first time in her life; and she formed a system for her- 
self, which would give the largest extent to the exercise of 
her natural benevolence, and yet obviate the suspicions 
and cure the fears of her narrow-minded, self-engrossed 
husband. 

" In pursuance of her scheme, she made it her request 
that they should take up their residence entirely at their 
seat in the north of England; giving up London society, 
and transforming herself altogether into a country lady. In 
her benevolent schemes, in the good she could there do, 
and in the few friends she could gather round her, against 
whom her husband could form no possible objection, she 
felt certain of possessing a considerable share of rational 
happiness — exempt from the hurry and excitement of town, 
for which her sensitive and ardent mind rendered her very 
unfit, under the guidance of a man who at once desired that 
she should hold a foremost place, and was yet disturbed by 
the admiration which she ehcited. Sir Boyvill complied 
with seeming reluctance, but real exultation. He possesses 
a dehghtful seat in the southern part of Cumberland. Here, 
amid a simple-hearted peasantry, and in a neighbourhood 
where she coidd cultivate many social pleasures, she gave 
herself up to a life which would have been one of extreme 
happiness, had not the exactions, the selfishness, the uncon- 
genial mind of Sir Boyvill debarred her from the dearest 
blessings of all — sympathy and friendship with the partner 
of her life. 

" Still she was contented. Her temper was sweet and 



FALKNER. 103 

yielding. She did not look on each cross in circumstance 
as an injury or a misfortune ; but rather as a call on her 
philosophy, which it was her duty to meet cheerfidly. Her 
heart was too warm not to shrink with pain from her hus- 
band's ungenerous nature, but she had a resource, to which 
she gave herself up with ardour. She turned the full but 
checked tide of affections from her husband to her son. 
Gerard was all in all to her — her hope, her joy, her idol, and 
he returned her love with more than a child's affection. 
His sensibihty developed early, and she cultivated it perhaps 
too much. She wished to secure a friend — and the tempt- 
ation afforded by the singular affectionateness of his dis- 
position and his great intelligence was too strong. Mr. 
Neville strongly objected to the excess to which she car- 
ried her maternal cares, and augured ill of the boy's devotion 
to her ; but here his interference was vain, the mother could 
not alter ; and the child, standing at her side, eyed his father 
even then with a sort of proud indignation, on his daring to 
step in between them. 

" To Mrs. Neville, this boy was as an angel sent to comfort 
her. She could not bear that any one should attend on him 
except herself — she was his playmate and instructress. 
When he opened his eyes from sleep, his mother's face was 
the first he saw ; she hushed him to rest at night — did he 
hurt himself, she flew to his side in agony — did she utter 
one word of tender reproach, it curbed his childish passions 
on the instant — he seldom left her side, but she was young 
enough to share his pastimes — her heart overflowed with its 
excess of love, and he, even as a mere child, regarded her 
as something to protect, as well as worship. 

" Mr. Neville was angry, and often reproved her too great 
partiality, though by degrees it won some favour in his 
eyes. Gerard was his son and heir, and he might be sup- 
posed to have a share in the affection lavished on him. He 
respected, also, the absence of frivolous vanity that led her 
to be happv with her child — contented away from London 
— satisfied m fulfilling the duties of her station, though his 
eyes only Avere there to admire. He persuaded himself 
that there must exist much latent attachment towards him- 
self, to reconcile her to this sort of exile ; and her disinter- 
estedness received the reward of his confidence — he who 
never before believed or respected woman. He began to 
yield to her more than he was wont, and to consider that 
he ought now and then to show some approbation of her 
conduct. 

" When Gei-ard was about six years old, they went abroad 
on a tour. Travelling was a mode of passing the time that 
accorded well with Mr. Neville's matrimonial view of keep- 
ing his wife to himself. In the traveUing carriage, he only 
was beside her ; in seeing sights, he, who had visited Italy 



104 FALKNER. 

before, and had some taste, could guide and instruct her; 
and short as their stay in each town was, there was no pos- 
sibihty of forming serious attachments or lasting friend- 
ships ; at the same time, his vanity was gratified by seeing 
his wife and son admired by strangers and natives. While 
abroad, Mrs. Neville bore another child, a little girl. This 
added greatly to her domestic happiness. Her husband 
grew extremely fond of his baby daughter; there was too 
much difference of age to set her up as a rival to Gerard ; 
she was by contradistinction the father's darling, it is true ; 
hut this rather produced harmony than discord — for the 
mother loved both children too well to feel hurt by the pref- 
erence ; and, softened by having an object he really loved 
to lavish his favour on, Sir Boyvill grew much more of a 
tender father and indulgent husband than he had hitherto 
shown himself. 



CHAPTER XVH. 

" It was not until a year after their return from abroad 
that the events happened which terminated so disastrously 
Mrs. Neville's career in her own family. I am perplexed 
how to begin the narration, the story is so confused and ob- 
scure ; the mystery that envelops the catastrophe so im- 
penetrable ; the circumstances that we really know so few, 
and these gleaned, as it were, ear by ear, as dropped in the 
passage of the event ; so making, if you will excuse my rus- 
tic metaphor, a meager, ill-assorted sheaf. Mrs. Neville 
had been a wife nearly ten years ; never had she done one 
act that could be disapproved by the most circumspect ; 
never had she swerved from that veracity and open line of 
conduct which was a safeguard against the mingled ardour 
and timidity of her disposition. It required extraordinary 
circumstances to taint her reputation, as, to say the least, it 
is tainted ; and we are still in the dark as to the main instru- 
ment by which these circumstances were brought about. 
Their result is too obvious. At one moment Mrs. Neville 
was an honoured and beloved wife ; a mother, whose heart's 
pulsations depended on the well-being of her children ; and 
whose fond affection was to them as the sun's warmth to 
the opening flower. At the next, where is she ] Silence 
and mystery v^rap her from us ; and surmise is busy in 
tracing shapes of infamy from the fragments of truth that 
we can gather. 

" On the return of the family from abroad, they again re- 
paired to their seat of Dromore ; and, at the time to which 



FALKNER. 105 

I allude, Mr. Neville had left them there, to go to London 
on business. He went for a week ; but his stay was pro- 
longed to nearly two months. He heard regularly from his 
wife. Her letters were more full of her children and house- 
hold than herself; but they were kind; and her maternal 
heart warmed, as she wrote, into anticipations of future 
happiness in her children, greater even than she now en- 
joyed. f]very line breathed of home and peace; every 
word siemed to emanate from a mind in which lurked no 
concealed feeling, no one thought unconfessed Or unap- 
proved. To such a home, cheered by so much beauty and 
excellence. Sir Boyvill returned, as he declares, with eager 
and grateful aflection. The lime came when he was ex- 
pected at home ; and true, both to the day and to the hour, 
he arrived. It was at eleven at night. His carriage drove 
through the grounds ; the doors of the house were thrown 
open; several eager faces were thrust forward with more 
of curiosity and anxiety than is at all usual in an English 
household ; and as he alighted, the servants looked aghast, 
and exchanged glances of terror. The truth was soon di- 
vulged. At about six in the evening, Mrs. Neville, who 
dined early in the absence of her husband, had gone to 
walk in the park with Gerard ; since then, neither had re- 
turned. 

" When the darkness, which closed in with a furious 
wind and thunder-storm, rendered her prolonged absence a 
matter of solicitude, the servants had gone to seek her in 
the grounds. They found their mistress's key in the lock 
of a small masked gate that opened on a green lane. They 
went one way up the lane to meet her ; but found no trace. 
They followed the other, with like ill success. Again they 
searched the park with more care ; and again resorted to 
the lanes and fields; but in vain. The obvious idea was, 
that she had taken shelter from the storm ; and a horrible 
fear presented itself, that she might have found no better 
retreat than a tree or hay-rick, and that she had been struck 
by the lightning. A slight hope remained, that she had 
gone along the high-road to meet her husband, and would 
return with him. His arrival alone took from them this last 
hope. 

'* The country was now raised. Servants and tenants 
were sent divers ways ; some on horseback, some on foot. 
Though summer-time, the night was inclement and tempes- 
tuous ; a furious west wind swept the earth ; high trees 
were bowed to the ground ; and the bias* howled and 
roared, at once baffling and braving every attempt to hear 
cries or distinguish sounds. 

" Dromore is situated in a beautiful, but wild and thinly- 
inhabited part of Cumberland, on the verge of the plain that 
forms the coast where it first breaks into uplands, dingles, 
E3 



106 FALKNER. 

and ravines ; there is no high road towards the sea — but as 
they took the one that led to Lancaster, they approached 
the ocean, and the distant roar of its breakers filled up the 
pauses of the gale. It was on this road, at the distance of 
some five miles from the house, that Gerard was found. 
He was lying on the road in a sort of stupor — which could 
be hardly called sleep — his clothes were drenched by the 
storm, and his limbs stiff from cold. When first found, 
and disturbed, he looked wildly around ; and his cry was 
for his mother — terror was painted in his face — and his in- 
tellects seemed deranged by a sudden and terrific shock. 
He was taken home. His fother hurried to him, question- 
ing him eagerly — but the cliiid only raved that his mother 
was being carried from him ; and his pathetic cry of ' Come 
back, mamma — stop — stop for me !' filled every one with 
terror and amazement. As speedily as possible, medic4 
assistance was sent for ; the physician foimd the boy in a 
high fever, the result of fright, exposure to the storm, and 
subsequent sleep in his wet clothes in the open air. It was 
many days before his life could be answered for — or the 
delirium left him — and still he raved that his mother was 
being carried off, and would not stop for him, and often he 
tried to rise from his bed under the notion of pursuing her. 

" At length consciousness returned — consciousness of 
the actual objects around him, mingled with an indistinct 
recollection of the events that immediately preceded his 
illness. His pulse was calm ; his reason restored ; and he 
lay quietly with open eyes fixed on the door of his chamber. 
At last he showed syniptoms of uneasiness, and asked for his 
mother. Mr. Neville was called, as he had desired he might 
be the moment his son showed signs of being rational. 
Gerard looked up in his father's face with an expression of 
disappointment, and again murmured, ' Send mamma to me.' 

" Fearful of renewing his fever by awakening his dis- 
quietude, his father told him that mamma was tired and 
asleep, and could not be disturbed. 

" ' Then she has come back ]' he cried ; ' that man did 
not take her quite away ] The carriage drove here at last.' 

" Such words renewed all their consternation. Afraid of 
questioning the child himself, lest he should terrify him, Mr. 
Neville sent the nurse who had been with him from infan- 
cy, to extract information. His story was wild and strange ; 
and here I nuist remark, that the account drawn from him 
by the woman's questions differs somewhat from that to 
which he aftel^vard adhered ; though not so nmch hi actual 
circumstances as in the colouring given. This his father 
attributes to his subsequent endeavours to clear his mother 
from blame ; while he asserts, and I believe with truth, that 
time and knowledge, by giving him an insight into motives, 
threw a new light on the words and actions which he re- 



FALKNER. 107 

membered ; and that circumstances wliich bore one aspect 
to his ignorance, became clearly visible in another, when 
he was able to understand the real meaning of several 
fragments of conversation which had at first been devoid of 
sense. 

" All that he could tell during this first stage of inquiry- 
was, that his mother had taken him to walk with her in the 
grounds, that she had unlocked the gate that opened out on 
the lane with her own key, and that a gentleman was with- 
out waiting. 

" Had he ever seen the gentleman before ? 

" Never; he did not know him, and the stranger took no 
notice of him ; he heard his mamma call him Rupert. 

"His mother took the stranger's arm, and walked on 
through the lane, while he sometimes ran on before, and 
sometimes remained at her side. They conversed earnestly, 
and his mother at one time cried ; he, Gerard, felt very an- 
gry with the gentleman for making her cry, and took her 
hand, and begged her to leave him and come away ; but she 
kissed the boy, told him to run on, and they would return 
very soon. 
■ *' Yet they did not return, but walked on to where the 
lane was intersected by the high-road. Here they stopped, 
and continued to converse ; but it seemed as if she were 
saying good-by to the stranger, when a carriage, driven at 
full speed, was seen approachmg ; it stopped close to them ; 
it was an open carriage, a sort of caleche, with the head 
pulled forward low down ; as it stopped his mother went up 
to it, when the stranger, pulling tlie child's hand from hers, 
hurried her into the carriage, and sprang in after, "crying out 
to him, 'Jump in, my boy!' but, before he could do so, the 
postillion whipped the horses, who started forward almost 
with a bound, and were in a gallop on the instant ; he heard 
his mother scream ; the words ' My child ! my son !" reached 
his ears, shrieked in agony. He ran wildly after the car- 
riage ; it disappeared, but still he ran on. It must stop 
somewhere, and he would reach it — his mother had called 
for him ; and thus, crying, breathless, panting, he ran along 
the high-road ; the carriage had long been out of sight, the 
sun had set; the wind, rising in gusts, brought on the thun- 
der-storm ; yet still he pursued, till nature and his boyish 
strength gave way, and he threw himself on the ground to 
gain breath. At every sound which he fancied might be that 
of carriage-wheels, he started up ; but it was only the howl- 
ing of the blast in the trees, and the hoarse muttering of the 
now distant thunder; twice and thrice he rose from the 
earth and ran forward; till, wet throug'a and utterly ex- 
hausted, he lay on the ground, weeping bitterly, and expect- 
ing to die. 

" 'I'his was all his story. It produced a strict inquiry 
amor.g tlic servants, and then circumstances scarcelj^ ad- 



1(® FALKNER. 

verted to were remembered, and some sort of information 
gained. About a week or ten days before, a gentleman on 
horseback, unattended by any servant, had called. He asked 
for Mrs. Neville ; the servant requested his name, but he 
muttered that it was no matter. He was ushered into the 
room where their mistress was sitting ; he stayed at least 
two hours ; and, when he was gone, they remarked that her 
eyes were red, as if she had been weeping. The stranger 
called again, and Mrs. Neville was denied to him. 

" Inquiries were now instituted in the neighbourhood. 
One or two persons remembered something of a stranger 
gentleman who had been seen riding about the country, 
mounted on a fine bay horse. One evening he was seen 
coming from the masked gate in the park, which caused it 
to be believed that he was on a visit at Dromore. Nothing 
more was known of him. 

" The servants tasked themselves to remember more par- 
ticularly the actions of their lady, and it was remembered 
that one evening she went to walk alone in the grounds, 
some accident having prevented Gerard from accompanying 
her. She returned very late, at ten o'clock ; and there was, 
her maid declared, a good deal of confusion in her manner. 
She threw herself on a sofa, ordered the lights to be taken 
away, and remained alone for two hours past her usual time 
for retiring for the night, till, at last, her maid ventured in to 
ask her if she needed anything. She was awake, and, when 
lights were brought, had evidently been weeping. After 
this she only went out in the carriage with the children, 
until the fatal night of her disappearance. It was remem- 
bered, also, that she received several letters, brought by a 
strange man, who left them without waiting for any answer. 
She received one the very morning of the day when she left 
her home, and this last note was found; it threw some light 
on the fatal mystery. It was only dated with the day of 
the week, and began abruptly : — 

" ' On one condition I will obey you ; I will never see you 
more — I will leave the country — I will forget my threats 
against the most hated life in the world ; he is safe on one 
condition. You must meet me this evening ; I desire to see 
you for the last time. Come to the gate of your park that 
opens on the lane, which you opened for me a few nights 
ago ; you will find me waiting outside. I will not detain 
you long. A farewell to you and to my just revenge shall 
be breathed at once. If you do not come I will wait till 
night, till I am past hope, and then enter your grounds, wait 
till he returns, and — oh, do not force me to say what you 
will call wicked and worse than unkind, but come, come, 
and prevent all ill. I charge you come, and hereafter you 
shall, if you please, be for ever delivered from your 

" ' Rupert.' 



FALKNER. ' 109 

" On this letter she went ; yet in innocence, for she to6k 
her child with her. Could any one doibt Jhat she was be- 
trayed, carried off, the victim of the foKlest treachery? No 
one did doubt it. Police were sent for f'on; London, the coun- 
try searched, the most minute inquiries set on foot. Some- 
times it was supposed tliat a clew was /ound, but in the end 
all failed. Month after month passal ; hope became de- 
spair ; pity merged into surmise ; and condemnation quickly 
followed. If she had been carried forcibly from her home, 
still she could not for ever be imprisoned and debarred from 
all possibility at least of writing. She ;iiight have sent ti- 
dings from the ends of the earth, nay, it was madness to 
think that she could be carried far against her own will. In 
any town, in any village, she mighr appeal to the justice 
and humanity of her fellow-creature*, and be set free. She 
would not have remained with tl^e man of violence who 
had torn her away, unless she ha^ at last become a party in 
his act, and lost all right to retiyli to her husband's roof. 

"Such suspicions began to>reep about — rather felt in 
men's minds than inferred in t'eir speech — till her husband 
first uttered the fatal word; ffid then, as if set free from a 
spell, each one was full of j/idignution at her dereliction and 
his injuries. Sir Boyvill v'as beyond all men vain — vanity 
rendered him liable to jealousy — and, when jealous, full of 
sore and angay feelinp^- His selfishness and unforgiving 
nature, which had be^n neutralized by his wife's virtues, 
now, quickened by ti'ie idea of her guilt, burst forth and en- 
grossed every otho*" emotion. He was injured there where 
the pride of man is most accessible — branded by pity — the 
tale of the worl^. He had feared such a catastrophe du- 
ring the first y<*ars of his wedded life, being conscious of 
the difference which age and nature had placed between 
him and hi* wife. In the recesses of his heart he had felt 
deeply grateful to her for having dissipated these fears. 
From th^ moment that her prudent conduct had made him 
secure, he had become another man — as far as his defective 
natur* and narrow mind permitted — he had grown virtuous 
and disinterested ; but this fabric of good qualities was the 
re.sult of her influence ; and it was swept away and utterly 
erased from the moment she left him, and that love and 
esteem were exchanged for contempt and hatred. 

" Soon, very soon, had doubts of his wife's allegiance 
and a suspicion of her connivance insinuated themselves. 
Like all evilly-inclined persons, he jumped at once into a 
belief of the worst ; her taking her son with her was a mere 
contrivance, or worse, since her design had probably been 
to carry him with her — a design frustrated by accident, and 
the lukewarmness of her lover on that point ; the letter left 
behind he looked on as a fabrication, left there to gloss 
Over her conduct. He forgot her patient goodness — her pu- 
10 



110 FALKNER. 

riy of soul— her devoted attachment to her children— her 
truth ; and attributed at once the basest artifice— the gross- 
est want of feeling. Want of feeling in her ! She whose 
pulses quickened ani whose blushes were called up at a 
word ; she who idolized her child even to a fault, and whose 
tender sympathy vv?s alive to every call ; but these demon- 
strations of sensibility grew into accusations. Her very 
goodness and guarded propriety were against her. Why 
appear so perfeet, except to blind? Why seclude herself, 
except from fear-; which r^al virtue need never entertain ? 
Why foster the morbid sens'ibility of her child, except from 
a craving for that ejcitement which is a token of depravity ? 
In this bad world we are apt to consider every deviation 
from stony apathy as tending at last to the indulgence of 
passions against whic?i society has declared a ban ; and 
thus with poor Alithea, ill could see, it was said, that a na- 
ture so sensitive must eni. in ill at last ; and that, if tempted, 
she must yield to an iuflutuce which few, even of the cold- 
est natures, can resist. 

" While Sir Boyvill revOved these thoughts, he grew 
gloomy and sullen. At first ijs increased unhappiness was 
attributed to sorrow ; but a ittle word betrayed the real 
source — a Utile word tliat namecliis wife with scorn. That 
word turned the tide of public beling ; and she, who had 
been pitied and wept as dead, was low regarded as a volun- 
tary deserter from her home. Her Vvtues were remember- 
ed against her ; and surmises, wliici. before would have 
been reprobated almost as blasphemy, became current -as 
undoubted truths. 

" It was long before Gerard became aware of this altered 
feeling. The minds of children are such a^iystery to us '. 
They are so blank, yet so susceptible of impression, that 
the point where ignorance ends and knowledge is perfected 
is an enigma often impossible to solve. From th« time that 
lie rose from his sick-bed, the boy was perpetually on the 
watch for intelligence — eagerly inquiring what discoveries 
were made — what means were used for, wliat hopes enter- 
tained of, his mother's rescue. He had asked his father 
whether he should not be justified in shooting the villain 
who had stolen her if ever he met him. He had shed tears 
of sorrow and pity until indignation swallowed up each 
softer feeling, and a desire to succour and to avenge became 
paramount. His dear, dear mother! tliat she slioiild be 
away — kept from him by force — that he could not find — not 
get at her, were ideas to incense his young heart to its very 
height of impatience and rage. Every one seemed too 
tame — too devoid of expedients and energy. It appeared 
an easy thing to measure the whole earth, step by step, and 
inch by inch, leaving no portion uninspected till she was 
found and liberated. He longed to set off on such an expe- 



PALKNER. Ill 

dition ; it was his dream by night and day ; and he commu- 
nicated these bursting fcehngs to every one, with an over- 
flowing eloquence, inexpressibly touching from its truth and 
earnestness. 

" Suddenly he felt the change. Perhaps some officious 
domestic suggested tlie idea. He says himself, it came on 
him as infection may be caiiglit by one who enters an hos- 
pital. H« saw it in tlie eyes — he felt it in the air and man- 
ner of all : his mother was believed to be a voluntary fugi- 
tive ; of her own accord she went, and never would return. 
At the thought his heart grew sick within him : — 

" ' To see his nobleness ! 
Conceiving the dishonour of his mother, 
He straight declined upon't, drooped, took it deeply ; 
Fastened and tixed the shame on't in himself; 
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep. 
And downright languished.' 

He refused food, and turned in disgust from every former 
'pursuit. Hitherto he had ardently longed for the return of 
his mother; and it seemed to him th.'vt, give his limbs but a 
manlier growtli, let a few years go over, and he should find 
and bring her back in triumph. But that contumely and 
disgrace should fall on that dear mother's head — how could 
he avert that T The evil was remediless, and death was 
slight in comparison. One day he walked up to his father, 
and fixing his clear young eyes upon him, said, ' I know 
what you think, but it is not true. Mamma would come 
back if she could. When I am a man 1 will find and bring 
her back, and you will be sorry then !' 

" What more he would have said was lost in sobs. His 
heart had beat impetuously as he had worked on himself to 
address his father, and assert his mother's truth ; but the 
consciousness that she was indeed gone, and that for years 
there was no hope of seeing her, broke in — his throat 
swelled, he felt suffocated, and fell down in a fit." 



CHAPTER XVm. 

Ladv Cecil had broken off her tale on their return from 
their morning drive. She resumed it in the evening, as she 
and Elizabeth sat looking on the summer woods ; and the 
soft but dim twilight better accorded with her melancholy 
story. 

" Poor Gerard ! His young heart was almost broken by 
strugghng passions, and the want of tenderness in those 
about him. After this scene with his father, his life was 



112 FALKNER. 

again in the greatest danger for some days, but at last health 
of body returned. He lay on his little couch, pale and 
wasted, an altered child — but his heart was the same, and 
he adhered tenaciously to one idea. ' Nurse,' he said, one 
day, to the woman wlio had attended him from his birth, ' I 
wish you would take pen and paper, and write down what 
I am going to say. Or, if that is too much trouble, I wish 
you would remember every word, and repeat it to my father. 
I cannot speak to him. He does not love mamma as he 
used ; he is unjust, and I cannot speak to him — but I wish 
to tell every little thing that happened, that people may see 
that what 1 say is true, and be as sure as I am that mamma 
never meant to go away. 

" ' When we met the strange gentleman first, we walked 
along the lane, and I ran about gathering flowers — yet I re- 
member I kept thinking, Why is mamma offended with that 
gentleman 1 — what right has he to displease her 1 and I 
came back with it in my mind to tell him that he should 
not say anything to annoy mamma ; but when I took her 
hand she seemed no longer angry, but very, very sorry. I 
remember she said, " I grieve deeply for you, Rupert" — and 
then she added, " My good wishes are all I have to give." 
I remember the words, for they made me fancy, in a most 
childish manner, mamma must have left her purse at home 
— and I began to think of my own — but seeing him so well 
dressed, 1 felt a few shillings would do him no good. Mam- 
ma talked on very softly, looking up in the stranger's face ; 
he was tall — taller, younger — and better looking than papa : 
and I ran on again, for I did not know what they were talk- 
ing about. At one time mamma called me and said she 
would go back, and I was very glad, for it was growing 
late, and I felt hungry — but the stranger said, "Only a little 
farther — to the end of the lane only" — so we walked on, 
and he talked about her forgetting him, and she said some- 
thing that that was best, and he ought to forget her. Oa 
this he burst forth very angrily, and I grew angry too — but 
he changed, and asked her to forgive him — and so we reach- 
ed the end of the lane. 

" ' We stopped there, and mamma held out her hand, and 
said — " Farewell !" — and something more — when suddenly 
we heard the sound of wheels, and a carriage came at full 
speed round from a turn in the road ; it stopped close to us 
— her hand trembled which held mine — and the stranger said 
— " You see I said true — I am going — and shall soon be far 
distant : I ask but for one half hour — sit in the carriage, it 
is getting cold." Mamma said, " No, no — it is late — fare- 
well ;" but as she spoke the stranger as it were led her for- 
ward, and in a moment lifted her up ; he seemed stronger 
than any two men — and put her in the carriage — and got in 
himself, crying to me to jump after, which I would have 



FALKNER. 113 

donie, but the postillion whipped the horses. I was thrown 
almost under the wheel by the sudden motion — I heard 
mamma scream ; but when I got up the carriage was already 
a long way off — and though I called as loud as I could — and 
ran after it — it never stopped, and the horses were going at 
full gallop. I ran on — thinking it would stop or turn back — 
and I cried out on mamma — while I ran so fast that I was 
soon breathless — and she was out of hearing — and then I 
shrieked and cried, and threw myself on the ground — till I 
thought I heard wheels, and I got up and ran again — but it 
was only the thunder — and that pealed and the wind roared, 
and the rain came down — and I could keep my feet no 
longer, but fell on the ground and forgot everything, except 
that mamma must come back and I was watching for her. 
And this, nurse, is my story — every word is true — and is it 
not plain that mamma was carried away by force V 

"'Yes,' said the womun, 'no one doubts that. Master 
Gerard — but why does she not come back ^ — no man could 
k-eep her against her will in a Christian country like this.' 

"' Because she is dead or in prison,' cried the boy, burst- 
ing into tears — * but I see 3'ou are as wicked as everj'body 
else — and have wicked thoughts too — and I hate you and 
everybody — except manima.' 

" From that time Gerard was entirely altered ; his boyish 
spirit was dashed — he brooded perpetually over the wrong 
done his mother — and was irritated to madness, by feeling 
that by a look and a word he could not make others share 
his belief in her spotless innocence. He became sullen, 
shy — shut up in himself — above all, he shunned his father. 
Months passed away : requisitions, set on foot at first from 
a desire to succour, were continued from a resolve to re- 
venge ; no pains or expense were spared to discover the 
fugitives, and all in vain. The opinion took root that they 
had fled to America — and who on that vast continent could 
find two beings resolved on concealment ? Inquiries were 
made at New-York and other principal towns ; but all in 
vain. 

" The strangest and most baffling circumstance in this 
mystery was, that no guess could be formed as to who the 
stranger was. Though he seemed to have dropped from 
the clouds, he had evidently been known long before to 
Mrs. Neville. His name, it appeared, v.-as Rupert — no one 
knew of any bearing that name. Had Alithea loved before 
her marriage ^ such a circumstance must have been care- 
fully hidden, for her husband had never suspected it. Her 
childhood had been spent with her mother, her father being 
mostly at sea. When sixteen, she lost her mother, and 
after a short interval resided with her father, then retired 
from service. He had assured Sir Boyvili that his daughter 
had never loved; and the husband, jealous as he was, had 
10* 



114 PALKNER. 

never seen cause to doubt the truth of this statement. Had 
she formed any attachment during the first years of her 
married hfe T Was it to escape the temptation so held ou 
that she sechided herself in the country 1 Rupert was 
probably a feigned name ; and Sir Boyvill tried to recollect 
who her favourites were, so to find a clew by their actions 
to her disappearance. It was in vain that he called to mind 
every minute circumstance, and pondered over the name of 
each visiter : he could remember nothing that helped dis- 
covery. Yet the idea that she had, several years ago, con- 
ceived a partiality for some man, who, as it proved, loved 
her to distraction, became fixed in Sir BoyvilFs mind. The 
thought poured venom on the time gone by. It might have 
been a virtue in her to banish him she loved and to secliide 
herself; but this mystery, where all seemed so frank and 
open, this defalcation of the heart, this inward thought 
which made no sign, yet ruled every action, was gall and 
wormwood to her proud, susceptible husband. That in her 
secret soul she loved this other, was manifest — for though 
it might be admitted that he used art and violence to tear 
her from her home, yet in the end she was vanquished ; 
and even maternal duties and affections sacrificed to irresist- 
ible passion. 

" Can you wonder that such a man as Sir Boyvill, 
ever engrossed by the mighty idea of self — yet fearful that 
that self should receive the minutest wound ; proud of his 
wife — because, being so lovely and so admired, she was all 
his — grateful to her, for being so glorious and enviable a 
possession — can you wonder that this vain but sensitive 
man should be wound up to the height of jealous rage by 
the loss of such a good, accompanied by circumstances of 
deception and dishonour ] He had been fond of his wife in 
return for her aff"ection, while she in reality loved another ; 
he had respected the perfection of her truth, and there was 
falsehood at the core. Had she avowed the traitor pas- 
sion ; declared her struggles, and, laying bare her heart, 
confessed that, while she preferred his honour and happi- 
ness, yet in the weakness of her nature another had stolen 
a portion of that sentiment which she desired to consecrate 
10 him — then with what tenderness he had forgiven her — with 
M'hat soothing forbearance he had borne her fault — how 
magnanimous and merciful he had shown himself! But 
she had acted the generous part ; thanks had come from 
him — the shows of obligation from her. He fancied that 
he held a flower in his hand, from which the sweetest per- 
fume alone could be extracted — but the germe was blighted, 
and the very core turned to bitter ashes and dust. 

" Such a theme is painful ; howsoever we view it, it is 
scarcely possible to imagine any event in life more desola- 
ting. To be happy is to attain cue's wishes, and to look 



FALKNER. 115 

forward to the lastingness of their possession. Sir Boy- 
vill had long been skeptical and distrusting ; but at last he 
was brought to believe that he had drawn the fortunate 
ticket ; that his wife's faith was a pure and perfect chryso- 
lite — and if in his heart he deemed that she did not regard 
him with all the reverence that was his due ; if she did not 
nurture all the pride of place, and disdain of her fellow- 
creatures which he thought that his wife ought to feel — yet 
her many charms and virtues left him no room for com- 
plaint. Her sensibihty, her vivacity, her wit, her accom- 
plishments, her exceeding loveliness— they were all unde- 
niably his — and all made her a piece of enchantment. This 
merit was laid low — deprived of its crown — her fidelity to 
him ; and the selfish, the heartless, and the cold whom she 
reproved and disliked, were hfted to the eminence of virtue, 
while she lay fallen, degraded, worthless. 

" Sir Boyvill was, in his own conceit, for ever placed on 
a pedestal ; and he loved to imagine that he coidd say, ' Look 
at me, you can see no defect ! I am a wealthy and a well- 
born man. I have a wife the envy of all — children who 
promise to inherit all our virtues. I am prosperous — no 
harm can reach me — look at me !' He was still on his ped- 
estal, but had become a mark for scorn, for pity! Oh, 
how he loathed himself — how he abhorred her who had 
brought him to this pass ! He had, in her best days, often 
fancied that he loved her too well, yielded too often his 
pride-nurtured schemes to her soft persuasions. He had 
indeed believed that Providence had created this exquisite 
and most beautiful being, that life might be made perfect to 
him. Besides, his months, and days, and hours had been 
replete with her image ; her very admirable qualities, ac- 
companied as they were by the trembling delicacy that 
droops at a touch, and then revives at a word ; her quick- 
ness, not of temper, but of feeling, which received such sud- 
den and powerful impression, formed her to be at once ad- 
mired and cherished with the care a sweet exotic needs, 
when transplanted from its sunny, native clime, to the un- 
genial temperature of a northern land. It was madness to 
recollect all the fears he had wasted on her. He had fore- 
gone the dignity of manhood to wait on her — he had often 
feared to pursue his projects, lest they should jar some del- 
icate chord in her frame ; to his own recollection, it seemed 
that he had become but the lackey to her behests — and all 
for the sake of a love which she bestowed on another — 
to preserve that honour which she blasted without pity. 

" It were in vain to attempt to delineate the full force of 
jealousy; natural sorrow at losing a thing so sweet and 
dear was blended with anger that he should be thrown off 
by her ; the misery of knowing that he should never see 
her more was mingled witJi a ferocious desire to learn that 



116 PALKNER. 

every disaster was heaped on one whom, hitherto, he had, as 
well as he could, guarded from every ill. To this we may 
add, commiseration for his deserted children. His son, late 
so animated, so free-spirited and joyous, a more promising 
child had never blessed a father's hopes, was changed into 
a brooding, grief-struck, blighted visionary. His little girl, 
the fairy thnig he loved best of all. she was taken from 
him; the carelessness of a nurse during a childish iUness 
caused her death, within a year after her mother's flight. 
Had that mother remained, such carelessness had been im- 
possible. Sir Eoyvill felt that all good fell from him — the 
only remaining golden fruit dropped from the tree — calami- 
ty encompassed him; with his whole soul he abhorred and 
desired to wreak vengeance on her who caused the ill. 

" After two years were passed, and no tidhigs were re- 
ceived of the fugitives, it seemed plain that there could be 
but one solution to the mystery. No doubt she and her 
lover concealed themselves in some far land, under a feigned 
name. If, indeed, it were — if it be so, it might move any 
heart to imagine poor Alithea's misery — the obloquy that 
mantles over her remembrance at home, while she broods 
over the desolation of the hearth she so long adorned, and 
the pining, impatient anguish of her beloved boy. What 
could or can keep her away, is matter of fearful conjecture; 
but this much is certain, that, at that time at least, and now, 
if she sui-vives, she must be miserable. Sir Boyvill, if he 
deigned to recollect these things, enjoyed the idea of her 
anguish. But, witliout adverting to her state and feelings, 
he was desirous of obtaining what reparation he could, and 
to dispossess her of his name. Endeavours to find the fugi- 
tives in America, and false hopes held out, had delayed the 
process. He at last entered on it with eagerness. A thou- 
sand obvious reasons rendered a divorce desirable ; and to 
him, with all his pride, then only would his pillow be with- 
out a thorn, when she lost his name, and eveiy right or tie 
that bound them together. Under the singidar circum- 
stances of the case, he could only obtain a divorce by a 
bill in parliament, and to this measure he resorted. 

" There was nothing reprehensible in this step ; self-de- 
fence, as well as revenge, suggested its expediency. Be- 
sides this, it may be said, that he was glad of the publicity 
that would ensue, that he might be proved blameless to all 
the world. He accused his wife of a fault so great as tar- 
nished irrecoverably her golden name. He accused her of 
being a false wife and an unnatural mother, under circum- 
stances of no common delinquency. But he might be mis- 
taken ; he might view his injuries with the eye of passion, 
and others, more disinterested, might pronounce that she 
was unfortunate, but not guilty. By means of the bill for 
divorce, the truth would be investigated and judged by sev-. 



FALKNER. 117 

eral hundred of the best born and best educated of his 
countrymen. The pubhcity, also, might induce discovery. 
It was fair and just ; and though his pride rebelled against 
becoming the tale of the day, he saw no alternative. In- 
deed, it was reported to him by some officious friend that 
many had observed that it was strange that he had not 
sought this remedy before. Something of wonder, or 
blame, or both, was attached to his passiveness. Such 
hints galled him to the quick, and he pursued his purpose 
with all the obstinacy and imperious haste peculiar to him. 

" When every other preliminary had been gone through, 
it was deemed necessary that Gerard should give his evi- 
dence at the bar of the House of Lords. Sir Boyvill looked 
upon his lost wife as a criminal, so steeped in deserved in- 
famy, so odious, and so justly condemned, that none could 
hesitate in siding with him to free him from the bondage of 
those laws, which, while she bore his name, might be pro- 
ductive of incalculable injury. His honour, too, was wound- 
ed. His honour, which he would have sacrificed his life to 
have preserved untainted, he had intrusted to Alithea, and 
loved her the more fervently that she regarded the trust 
with reverence. She had foully betrayed it ; and must not 
all who respected the world's customs and the law s of so- 
cial life ; above all, must not any who loved him be for- 
ward to cast her out from any inheritance of good that could 
reach her through him 1 

" Above all, must not their son — his son, share his indigna- 
tion, and assist his revenge? Gerard was but a boy; but 
his mother's tenderness, his own quick nature and lastly, 
the sufferings he had endured through her flight, had early 
developed a knowledge of the realities of hfe, and so keen 
a sense of right and justice, as made his father regard him 
as capable of forming opinions, and acting from such mo- 
tives, as usually are little understood by one so young. And 
true it was that Gerard fostered sentiments independent of 
any teaching; and cherished ideas the more obstinately, be- 
cause they were confined to his single breast. He under- 
stood the pity with which his father was regarded — the 
stigma cast upon his mother — the suppressed voice — the 
wink of the eye — the covert hint. He understood it all; 
and, like the poet, longed for a word, sharp as a sword, to 
pierce the falsehood through and through. 

" For many months he and his father had seen little of 
each other. Sir Boyvill had not a mind that takes pleasure 
m watching the ingenuous sallies of childhood, or the de- 
velopment of the youthful mind ; the idea of making a friend 
of his child, Avhich had been Alithea's fond and earnest aim, 
could never occur to his self-engrossed heart. Since his 
illness, Gerard had been weakly, or he would have been 
sent to school. As it was, a tutor resided in the house. 



118 FALKNER. 

This person ^as written to by Sir Boy vill's man of busi- 
ness, and directed to break the matter to his pupil ; to ex- 
plain the formalities, to sooth and encourage any timidity 
he might show, and to incite him, if need were, to a desire 
to assist in a measure, whose operation was to render jus- 
tice to his father, 

" The first allusion to his mother made by Mr. Carter 
caused the blood to rush from the boy's heart, aqd to die 
crimson his cheeks, his temples, his throat ; then he grew 
deadly pale, and, without uttering a word, listened to his 
preceptor, till suddenly taking in the nature of the task as- 
signed to him, every limb shook, and he answered by a simple 
request to be left alone, and he would consider. No more ■>' 
was thought by the unapprehensive people about, than that 
he was shy of being spoken to on the subject — that he 
would make up his mind in his own way — and Mr. Car- 
ter at once yielded to his request ; the reserve which had 
shrouded him since he lost his mother had accustomed 
those about him to habitual silence. None — no one watch- 
ful, attached, intelligent eye marked the struggles which 
shook his delicate frame, blanched his cheek, took the flesh 
from his bones, and quickened his pulse into fever. None 
mai-ked him as he lay in bed the livelong night, with open 
eyes and beating heart a prey to contending emotion. He 
was passed carelessly by as he lay on the dewy grass from 
morn to evening, his soul torn by grief — uttering his moth- 
er's name in accents of despair, and shedding floods of tears. 

" I said that these signs of intense feeling were not remark- 
ed — and yet they were, in a vulgar way, by the menials, who 
said it would be well when the affair was over, Master Ne- 
ville took it so to heart, and was sadly frightened. Fright- 
ened ! such a coarse undistinguishing name was given to the 
sacred terror of doing his still loved mother an injury, which 
heaved his breast with convulsive sobs and filled his veins 
with fire. 

" The tliought of what he was called upon to do haunted 
him day and night with agony. He, her nursling, her idol, 
her child — he who could not think of her name without tears, 
and dreamed often that she kissed him in his sleep, and woke 
to weep over tlie delusion — he was to accuse her before an 
assembled multitude — to give support to the most infamous 
falsehoods — to lend his voice to stigmatize her name : and 
wherever she was, kept from him by some irresistible 
power, but innocent as an angel, and still loving him, she 
was to hear of him as her enemy, and receive a last wound 
from his hand. Such appeared the task assigned to him in 
his eyes, for his blunt-witted tutor had spoken of the justice ' 
to be rendered his father, by freeing him from his fugitive 
wife, without regarding the inner heart of his pupil, or being 



FALKNER. 119 

aware tliat his mother sat throned there, an angel of hght 
and goodness, the victim of ill, but doing none. 

" Soon after Mrs. Neville's flight, the family had aban- 
doned the seat in Cumberland, and inhabited a house taken 
near the Thames, in Buckinghamshire. Here Gerard re- 
sided, while liis father was in town watching the progress of 
the bill. At last the day drew near when Gerard's presence 
was required. The peers showed a disposition, either from 
curiosity or a love of justice, to sift the affair to the utter- 
most, and the boy's testimony was declared absolutely ne- 
cessary. Mr. Carter told Gerard that on the following 
morning they were to proceed to London, in pursuance of 
the circumstances which he had explained to him a few days 
before. 

" ' Is it then true,' said the boy, ' that I am to be called 
upon to give evidence, as you call it, against my mother 1' 

" ' You are called upon by every feeling of duty,' replied 
the sapient preceptor, ' to speak the truth to those whose 
decision will render justice to your father. If the truth in- 
jure Mrs. Neville, that is her affair.' 

" Again Gerard's cheeks burned with blushes, and his eyes, 
dimmed as they were with tears, flashed fire. ' In that 
case,' he said, ' I beg to see my father.' 

'"You will see him when in town,' replied ^Ir. Carter. 
' Come, Neville, you must not take the matter in this girl- 
ish style ; show yourself a man. Your mother is un- 
worthy — ' 

" ' If you please, sir,' said Gerard, half choked, yet re- 
straining himself, ' I will speak to my father ; I do not like 
any one else to talk to me about these things.' 

" ' As you please, sir,' said Mr. Carter, much offended. 

" No more was said — it was evening. The next morning 
they set out for London. The poor boy had lain awake the 
whole night ; but no one knew or cared for his painful 
vigils. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

" On the following day the journey was performed ; and 
it had been arranged that Gerard should rest on the subse- 
quent one ; the third being fixed for his attendance in the 
House of Lords. Sir Boyvill had been informed how sul- 
lenly (that was the word they used) the boy had received 
the information conveyed him by his tutor. He would 
rather have been excused saying a word himself to his son 
on the subject ; but this account, and the boy's request to 



120 FALKNER. 

see him, forced him to change his purpose. He did not ex- 
pect opposition ; but he wished to give a riglit turn to Ge- 
rard's expressions. The sort of cold distance that separa- 
tion and variance of feeUng produced, rendered their inter- 
course little like the tender interchange of parental and 
filial love. 

" ' Gerard, my boy,' Sir Boyvill began, ' Ave are both 
sufferers; and you, like me, are not of a race tamely to 
endure injury. I would willingly have risked my life to re- 
venge the ruin brought on us ; so I believe would you, child 
as you are ; but the skulking villain is safe from my arm. 
The laws of his country cannot even pursue him ; yet, what 
reparation is left, I must endeavour to get.' 

" Sir Boyvill showed tact in thus bringing forward only 
that party, whose act none could do other than reprobate, 
and who was the object of Gerard's liveliest hatred. His 
face lightened up with something of pleasure — his eye 
flashed fire ; to prove to the world the guilt and violence of 
the wretch who had torn his mother from him was indeed 
a task of duty and justice. A little more forbearance on his 
father's part had wound him easily to his -will : but the pol- 
icy Sir Bo3rvill displayed was involuntary, and his next 
words overturned all. ' Your miserable mother,' he con- 
tinued, 'must bear her share of infamy; and if she be not 
wholly hardened, it will prove a sufficient punishment. 
When the events of to-morrow reach her, she will begin to 
taste of the bitter cup slie has dealt out so largely to others. 
It were folly to pretend to regret that — I own that I re- 
joice.' 

" Every idea now suffered revulsion, and the stream of 
feeling flowed again in its old channels. What right had 
his father to speak thus of the beloved and honoured parent 
he had so cruelly lost ] His blood boiled within him, and, 
despite childish fear and reverence, he said, ' If my mother 
will grieve or be injured by my appearing to-morrow, I will 
not go — I cannot.' 

" ' You are a fool to speak thus,' said his father, ' a galless 
■animal, without sense of pride or duty. Come, sir, no more 
of this. You owe me obedience, and you must pay it on 
this occasion. You are only bid speak the truth, and that 
you must speak. I had thought, notwithstanding your 
'youth, higher and more generous motives might be urged 
— a father's honour vindicated — a mother's vileness pun- 
ished.' 

" ' My mother is not vile !' cried Gerard, and there stop- 
ped ; for a thousand things restrain a child's tongue ; inex- 
perience, reverence, ignorance of the eflfect his words may 
produce, terror at the mightiness of the power with which 
he has to contend. After a pause, he muttered, ' I honour 
my mother ; I will tell the whole world that she deserves 
honour.' 



FALKNER. 131 

" ' Now, Gerard, on my soul,' cried Sir Boyvill, roused to 
anger, as parents too easily are against their offspring when 
they show any will of their own, while they expect to move 
them like puppets ; ' on my soul, my fine fellow, I could 
find it in my heart to knock you down. Enough of this ; I 
don't want to terrify you : be a good boy to-morrow, and I 
will forgive all.' 

" ' Forgive me now, father,' cried the youth, bursting into 
tears ; ' forgive me and spare me ! I cannot obey you ; I 
cannot do anytliiug that will grieve my mother ; she loved 
me so much — I am sure she loves me still — that I cannot 
do her a harm. I will not go to-morrow.' 

" ' This is most extraordinary,' said Sir Boyvill, control- 
ling, as well as he could, the rage swelling within him. 
'And are you such an idiot as not to know that your 
wretched mother has forfeited all claim to your affection ? 
and am I of so little worth in your eyes, I, your father, who 
have a right to your obedience from the justice of my 
cause, not to speak of parental authority, am I nothing T to 
receive no duty, expect no service ] I was, indeed, mista- 
ken ; I thought you were older than your years, and had 
that touch of gentlemanly pride about you that would have 
made you eager to avenge my injuries, to stand by me as a 
friend and ally, compensating, as well as you could, for the 
wrongs done me by your mother. I thought I had a son in 
whose veins my own blood flowed, who would be ready to 
prove his true birth by siding with me. Are you stone, or 
a baseborn thing, that you cannot even conceive what thing 
honour is V 

" Gerard listened, he wept ; the tears poured in torrents 
from his eyes ; but, as his father continued, and heaped 
many an opprobrious epithet on him, a proud and sullen 
spirit was indeed awakened ; he longed to say — ' Abuse me, 
strike me, but I will not yield !' Yet he did not speak ; he 
dried his eyes, and stood in silence before his parent, his 
face darkening, and something ferocious gleaming in eyes 
hitherto so soft and sorrowing. Sir Boyvill saw that he 
was far from making the impression he desired; but he 
wished to avoid reiterated refusals to obey, and he summed 
up at last with vague but violent threats of what would en- 
sue — exile from his home, penury, nay, starvation, the ab- 
horrence of the world, his own malediction ; and, after hav- 
ing worked himself up into a towering rage, and real detes- 
tation of the shivering, feeble, yet determined child before 
him, he left him to consider and to be vanquished. 

" Far other thoughts occupied Gerard. ' I had thought,' 
he has told me, ' once or twice to throw myself into his 
arms, and pray for mercy ; to kneel at his feet and implore 
him to spare me ; one kind word had made the struggle in- 
tolerable, but no kind word did he say ; and while he stormed, 
11 F 



122 FALKNE.R. 

it seemed to me as if my dear mother were singing as she 
was used, while I gathered flowers and played beside her in 
the park, and I thought of her, not of him ; the words, " kick 
me out of doors," suggested but the idea, " I shall be free, 
and I will find my mother." I feel intensely now; but 
surely a boy's feelings are far wilder, far more vehement 
than a man's ; for I cannot now, violent as you think me, 
call up one sensation so whirlwind-like as those that pos- 
sessed me while my father spoke !' 

" Thus has Gerard described his emotions ; his father or- 
dered him to quit the room, and he went to brood upon the 
fate impending over him. On the morrow early he was bid 
prepare to attend the House of Lords. His father did not 
appear ; he thought that the boy was terrified, and would 
make no further resistance. Gerard, indeed, obeyed in si- 
lence. He disdained to argue with strangers and hirelings ; 
he had an idea that if he openly rebelled he might be car- 
ried by force, and his proud heart swelled at the idea of 
compulsion. He got into the carriage, and, as he went, 
Mr. Carter, who was with him, thought it advisable to ex- 
plain the forms, and give some instructions. Gerard lis- 
tened with composure, nay, asked a question or two con- 
cerning the preliminaries ; he was told of the oath that 
would be administered; and how the words he spoke after 
taking that oath would be implicitly believed, and that he 
must be careful to say nothing that was not strictly true. 
The colour, not an indignant blush, but a suffusion as of 
pleasure, mantled over his cheeks as this was explained. 

" They arrived ; they were conducted into some outer 
room to await the call of the peers. What tortures the boy 
felt as strangers came up, some to speak, and others to 
gaze ; all of indignation, resolution, grief, and more than 
manhood's struggles that tore his bosom during the annoy- 
ing delays that always protract this sort of scenes, none 
cared to scan. He was there um-esisting, apparently com- 
posed ; if now his cheek flushed, and now his hps withered 
into paleness ; if now the sense of suffocation rose in his 
throat, and now tears rushed into his eyes, as the image of 
his sweet mother passed across his memoiy, none regarded, 
none cared. When I have thought of the spasms and throes 
which his tender and high wrought soul endured during this 
interval, I often wonder his heart-strings did not crack, or 
his reason for ever unsettle ; as it is, he has not yet escaped 
the influence of that hour ; it shadows his life with eclipse, 
it comes whispering agony to him, when otherwise he might 
forget. Some author has described the effect of misfortune 
on the virtuous as the crushing of perfumes, so to force 
them to give forth tlieir fragrance. Gerard is all nobleness, 
all virtue, all tenderness ; do we owe any part of his excel- 
lence to this hour of anguish 1 If so, 1 may be consoled ; 



FALKNER. 123 

but I can never think of it without pain. He says himself, 
' Yes ! without these sharp goadings, I had not devoted my 
whole life to clearing my mother's fame.' Is this devotion 
a good ? As yet no apparent benefit has spnmg from it. 

" At length he was addressed : ' Young gentleman, are 
you ready !' and he was led into that stately chamber — fit 
for solemn and high debate — thronged with the judges of 
his mother's cause. There was a dimness in his eye — a 
tumult in his heart that confused him, while on his appear- 
ance there was first a murmur, then a general hush. Each 
regarded him with compassion as they discerned the marks 
of suflering in his countenance. A few moments passed 
before he was addressed; and when it was supposed that 
he had had time to collect himself, the proper officer ad- 
ministered the oath, and then the barrister asked him some 
slight questions, not to startle, but to lead back his memory 
by insensible degrees to the necessary Tacts. The boy 
looked at him with scorn — he tried to be calm, to elevate 
his voice ; twice it faltered — the third time he spoke slowly 
but distinctly : ' I have sworn to speak the truth, and I am 
to be believed. My mother is innocent.' 

" ' But this is not the point, young gentleman,' interrupted 
his interrogator; 'I only asked if you remembered your 
father's house in Cumberland.' 

" The boy replied more loudly, but with broken accents 
— ' I have said all I mean to say — you may murder me, but 
I will say no more — how dare you entice me into injuring 
my mother?' 

" At the word, uncontrollable tears burst forth, pouring 
in torrents down his burning cheeks. He told me that he 
well remembers the feeling that rose to his tongue, instiga- 
ting him to cry shame on all present — but his voice failed, 
his purpose was too mighty for his young heart ; he sobbed 
and wept ; the more he tried to control the impulse, the 
more hysterical the fit grew — he was taken from the bar, 
and the peers, moved by his distress, came to a resolve that 
they would dispense with his attendance, and be satisfied 
by hearing his account of the transaction from those per- 
sons to whom he made it at the period when it occurred. 
I will now mention, that the result of this judicial inquiry 
"was, a decree of divorce in Sir Boyvill's favour. 

" Gerard, removed from the bar, and carried home, re- 
covered his composure — but he was silent — revolving the 
consequences which he expected would ensue from dis- 
obedience. His father had menaced to turn him out of 
doors, and he did not doubt but that this threat would be 
put into execution, so that he was somewhat surprised tha* 
he was taken home at all ; perhaps they meant to send him 
to a place of exile of their own choosing, perhaps to make 
the expulsion public and ignominious. The powers of 
F2 



124 FALKNER. 

grown-up people appear so illimitable in a child's eyes, who 
have no data whereby to discover the probable from the^ 
improbable. At length the fear of confinement became 
paramount ; he revolted from it ; his notion was to go and 
seek his mother — and his mind was quickly made up to 
forestall their violence, and to run away. 

" He was ordered to confine himself to his own room — 
his food was brought to him — this looked like the confirm- 
ation of his fears. His heart swelled high : ' They think 
to treat me like a child, but 1 will show myself independent 
— wherever my mother is, she is better than they all — if 
she is imprisoned, I will free her, cr I will remain with her; 
how glad she will be to see me — how happy shall we be 
again together! My father may have all the rest of the 
world to himself, when I am with my mother, in a cavern or 
a dungeon, I care not where.' 

" Night came on — he went to bed — he even slept, and 
awoke terrified to think that the opportune hour might be 
overpassed — daylight was dawning faintly in the east; the 
clocks of London struck four — he was still in time — every 
one in the house slept ; he rose and dressed — he had nearly 
ten guineas of his own, this was all his possession, he had 
counted them the night before— he opened the door of his 
chamber — daylight was struggling with darkness, and aU 
was very still — -he stepped out, he descended the stairs, he 
got into the hall — every accustomed object seemed new 
and strange at that early hour, and he looked with some 
dismay at the bars and bolts of the house door — he feared 
making a noise, and rousing some servant, still the thing 
must be attempted ; slowly and cautiously he pushed back 
the bolts, he lifted up the chain — it fell from his hands with 
terrific clatter on the stone pavement — his heart was in his 
mouth — he did not fear punishment, but he feared ill suc- 
cess ; he listened as well as liis throbbing pulses permitted 
— all was still — the key of the door was in the lock, it 
turned easily at his toucli, and in another moment the door 
was open ; the fresh air blew upon his cheeks — the de- 
serted street was before him. He closed the door after 
him, and with a sort of extra caution locked it on the out- 
side, and then took to his heels, throwing the key down a 
neighbouring street. When out of sight of his home, he 
walked more slowly, and began to think seriously of the 
course to pursue. To find his mother ! — all the world had 
been trying to find her, and had not succeeded — but he be- 
lieved that by some means she would hear of his escape 
and come to him — but whither go in the first instance 1 — 
his heart replied, to Cumberland, to Dromore — there he had 
lived with his mother — there had he lost her — he felt as- 
sured that in its neighbourhood he should again be restored 
to her. 



FALKNER. 1S5 

" Travelling had given him some idea of distance, and of 
the modes of getting from one place to another — he felt 
that it would be a task of too great difficulty to attempt 
walking across England — he had no carriage, he knew of 
no ship to take him, some conveyance he must get, so he 
applied to a hackney coach. It was standing solitary in 
the middle of the street, the driver asleep on the steps — the 
skeleton horses hanging down their heads — with the pecu- 
liarly disconsolate look these poor hacked animals have. 
Gerard, as the son of a wealthy man, was accustomed to 
consider that he had a right to command those whom he 
could pay — yet fear of discovery and being sent back to his 
father filled him with unusual fears ; he looked at the 
horses and the man — he advanced nearer, but he was afraid 
to take the decisive step, till the driver awaking, started up 
and shook himself, stared at the boy, and seemg him well 
dressed — and he looked, too, older than his years, from 
being tall — he asked, ' Do you want me, sir V 

" ' Yes,' said Gerard, ' I want you to drive me.' 

" ' Get in, then. Where are you going ?' 

" ' I am going a long way — to Dromore, that is in Cumber- 
land — ' 

" The boy hesitated ; it struck him that those miserable 
horses could not carry him far. 'Then you want me to 
take you to the stage,' said the man. ' It goes from Picca^ 
dilly — at five — we have no time to lose.' 

" Gerard got in — on they jumbled — and arriving at the 
coach-office, saw some half dozen stages ready to start. 
The name of Liverpool on one struck the boy, by the famil- 
iar name. If he could get to Liverpool, it were easy after- 
ward even to walk to Dromore ; so getting out of the 
hackney coach, he Avent up to the coachman, who was 
mounting his box, and asked, ' Will you take me to Liver- 
pool V 

" ' Yes, my fine fellow, if you can pay the fare.' 

" ' How much is it V drawing out his purse. 

" ' Inside or outside V 

" From the moment he had addressed these men, and 
they began to talk of money, Gerard, calling to mind the 
vast disbursements of gold coin he had seen made by his 
father and the courier on their travels, began to fear that his 
little stock would ill suffice to carry him so far ; and the 
first suggestion of prudence the little fellow ever experienced 
made him now answer. ' Whichever costs least.' 

" • Outside, then.' 

" ' Oh, I have that — I can pay you.' 

" ' Jump up, then, my lad — lend me your hand — here, by 
me— that's right— all's well, you're just in the nick, we are 
off directly.' 
11* 



1 26 PALKNER. 

" He cracked his whip, and away they flew ; and as they 
went, Gerard felt free, and going to his mother. 

" Such, in these civiHzed times, are the facilities offered to 
the execution of our wildest wishes ! the consequences, the 
moral consequences, are still the same, still require the 
same exertions to overcome them ; but we have no longer 
to fight with physical impediments. If Gerard had begun his 
expedition from any other town, curiosity had perhaps been 
excited ; but in the vast, busy metropolis each one takes 
care of himself, and few scrutinize the motives or means of 
others. Perched up on the coach-box, Gerard had a few 
questions to answer — Was he going home 1 did he live in 
Liverpool ? but the name of Dromore was a sufficing answer. 
The coachman had never heard of such a place ; but it was 
a gentleman's seat, and it was Gerard's home, and that was 
enough. 

" Some day you must ask Gerard to relate to you his ad- 
ventures during this journey. They will come warmly and 
vividly from him ; while mine, as a mere reflex, must be 
tame. It is his mind I would describe ; and I will not pause 
to narrate the tantalizing cross-questioning that he under- 
went from a Scotchman — nor the heart-heavings with which 
he heard allusions made to the divorce case before the lords. 
A newspaper describing his own conduct was in the hands 
of one of the passengers ; he heard his mother lightly al- 
luded to. He would have leaped from the coach ; but that 
was to give up all. He pressed his hands to his ears — he 
scowled on those around — his heart was on fire. Yet he 
had one consolation. He was free. He was going to her 
— he resolved never to mingle with his fellow-creatures 
more. Buried in some rural retreat Avith his mother, it 
mattered little what the vulgar and the indifi'erent said about 
either. 

" Some qualms did assail him. Should he find his dear 
mother 1 Where was she ] his childish imagination refused 
to paint her distant from Dromore — his own removal from 
that mansion so soon after losing her, associated her indeli- 
bly with the mountains, the ravines, the brawling streams, 
and clustering woods of his natal county. She must be 
there. He would drive away the man of violence who took 
her from him, and they would be happy together. 

" A day and a night brought liim to Liverpool, and the 
coachman, hearing whither he wished to go, deposited him in 
the stage for Lancaster on his arrival. He went inside this 
time, and slept all the way. At Lancaster he was recognised 
by several persons, and they wondered to see him alone. 
He was annoyed at their recognition and questionings ; and, 
though it was night when he arrived, instantly set ofT to 
walk to Dromore. 
" For two months from this time he lived wandering from 



FALKNER. 127 

cottage to cottage, seeking his mother. The journey from 
Lancaster to Dromore he performed as speedily as he well 
could. He did not enter the house — that would be deliver- 
ing himself up as a prisoner. By night he clambered the 
park railings, and entered like a thief the demesnes where 
he had spent his childhood. Each path was known to him, 
and almost every tree. Here he sat with his mother; there 
they found the first violet of spring. His pilgrimage was 
achieved ; but where was she 1 His heart beat as he reached 
the little gate whence they had issued on that fatal night. 
All the grounds bore marks of neglect and the master's ab- 
sence ; and the lock of this gate was spoiled ; a sort of 
rough bolt had been substituted. Gerard pushed it back. 
The rank grass had gathered thick on the threshold ; but it 
was the same spot. How well he remembered it ! 

" Two years only had since passed, he was still a child ; 
yet to his own fancy how much taller, how much more of 
a man he had become ! Besides, he now fancied himself 
master of his own actions — he had escaped from his father; 
and he — who had threatened to turn him out of doors — 
would not seek to possess himself of him again. He be- 
longed to no one — he was cared for by no one — by none but 
her whom he sought with firm, yet anxious expectation. 
There he had seen her last — he stepped forward ; he fol- 
lowed the course of the lane — he came to where the road 
crossed it — where the carriage drove up, where she had 
been torn from him. 

" It was daybreak — a June morning ; all was golden and 
still — a few birds twittered, but the breeze was hushed, and 
he looked out on the extent of country commanded from the 
spot where he stood, and saw only nature, the rugged hills, 
the green corn-fields', the flowery meads, and the umbrageous 
trees in deep repose. How different from the wild, tem- 
pestuous night when she whom he sought was torn away ; 
he could then see only a few yards before him, now he 
could mark the devious windings of the road, and, afar off, 
distinguish the hazy line of the ocean. He sat down to re- 
flect — what was he to do ] in what nook of the wide ex- 
panse was his mother hid ? that some portion of the land- 
scape he viewed harboured her, was his fixed belief; a be- 
lief founded in inexperience and fancy, but not the less 
deep-rooted. He meditated for some time, and then walked 
forward — he remembered when he ran panting and scream- 
ing along that road ; he was a mere child then, and what was 
he now ? a boy of eleven ; yet he looked back with disdain 
to the endeavours of two years before. 

" He walked along in the same direction that he had at 
that time pursued, and soon found that he reached the turn- 
pike-road to Lancaster. He turned off, and went by the 
cross-road that leads to the wild and dreary plains that form 



128 FALKNER. 

the coast. The inner range of picturesque hills, on the de- 
clivity of which Dromore is situated, is not more than five 
miles from the sea ; but the shore itself is singularly blank 
and uninteresting, varied only by sand-hills throv^^n up to the 
height of thirty or forty feet, intersected by rivers, which at 
low water are fordable even on foot ; but which, when the 
tide is up, are dangerous to those who do not know the right 
track, from the holes and ruts which render the bed of the 
river uneven. In winter, indeed, at the period of spring 
tides, or in stormy weather, with a west wind which drives 
the ocean towards the shore, the passage is often exceed- 
ingly dangerous, and, except under the direction of an ex- 
perienced guide, fatal accidents occur. 

" Gerard reached the borders of the ocean near one of 
these streams ; behind him rose his native mountains, range 
above range, divided by tremendous gulfs, varied by the 
shadows of the clouds, and the gleams of sunlight ; close to 
him was the waste seashore ; the ebbing tide gave a dreary 
sluggish appearance to the ocean, and the river — a shallow, 
rapid stream — emptied its slender pittance of mountain wa- 
ter noiselessly into the lazy deep. It was a scene of sin- 
gular desolation. On the other side of the river, not far 
from the mouth, was a rude hut, unroofed, and fallen to de- 
cay — erected, perhaps, as the abode of a guide ; near it grew 
a stunted tree, withered, moss-covered, spectre-like— -the 
sand-hills lay scattered around — the seagull screamed above, 
and skimmed over the waste. Gerard sat down and wept 
— motherless — escaped from his angry father ; even to his 
young imagination, his fate seemed as drear and gloomy as 
the scene around. 



CHAPTER XX. 

" I DO not know why I have dwelt on these circumstances 
so long. Let me hasten to finish. For two months Ge- 
rard wandered in the neighbourhood of Dromore. If he saw 
a lone cottage, imbowered in trees, hidden in some green 
recess of the hills, sequestered and peaceful, he thought, 
Perhaps my mother is there ! and he clambered towards it, 
finding it at last, probably, a mere shepherd's hut, poverty- 
stricken, and tenanted by a noisy family. His money was 
exhausted — he made a journey to Lancaster to sell his 
watch, and then returned to Cumberland — his clothes, his 
shoes were worn out — often he slept in the open air — ewes' 
milk cheese and black bread were his fare — his hope was 
to find his mother — his fear to fall again into his father's 



FALKNER. 129 

hands. But as the first sentiment failed, his friendless con- 
dition grew more sad ; he began to feel that he was indeed 
a feeble, helpless boy — abandoned by all — he thought nothing 
was left for him but to lie down and die. 

" Meanwhile he was noticed, and at last recognised, by 
some of the tenants ; and information reached his father of 
where he was. Unfortunately, the circumstance of his dis- 
appearance became public. It was put into the newspapers 
as a mysterious occurrence ; and the proud Sir Boy vill 
found himself not only pitied on account of his wife's con- 
duct, but suspected of cruelty towards his only child. At 
first he was himself frightened and miserable ; but when he 
heard where Gerard was, and that he could be recovered at 
any time, these softer feelings were replaced by fury. He 
sent the tutor to possess himself of his son's person. He 
was seized with the help of a constable ; treated more like 
a criminal than an unfortunate, erring child ; carried back 
to Buckinghamshire ; shut up in a barricadoed room ; de- 
barred from air and exercise ; lectured ; menaced ; treated 
with indignity. The boy, hitherto accustomed to more than 
usual indulgence and freedom, was at first astonished, and 
then wildly indignant at the treatment he suffered. He was 
told that he should not be set free till he submitted. He 
believed that to mean, luitil he could give testimony against 
his mother. He resolved rather to die. Several times he 
endeavoured to escape, and was brought back and treated 
with fresh barbarity — his hands bound, and stripes inflicted 
by menials ; till, driven to despair, he at one time determined 
to starve himself, and at another tried to bribe a servant 
to bring him poison. The trusting piety inculcated by his 
gentle mother was destroyed by the ill-judged cruelty of his 
father and his doltish substitute. It is painful to dwell on 
such circumstances ; to think of a sensitive, helpless child 
treated with the brutality exercised towards a galley-slave. 
Under this restraint, Gerard grew such as you saw him at 
Baden — sullen, ferocious, plunged in melancholy, delivered 
up to despair. 

" It was some time before, he discovered that the submis- 
sion demanded of him was not to run away again. On 
learning this, he wrote to his father. He spoke with horror 
of the personal indignities he had endured ; of his imprison- 
ment ; of the conduct of Mr. Carter. He did not mean it as 
such, but his letter grew into an affecting, irresistible ap- 
peal that even moved Sir Boyvill. His stupid pride pre- 
vented him from showing the regret he felt. He still used 
the language of reproof and conditional pardon ; but the tu- 
tor was dismissed, and Gerard restored to liberty. Had his 
father been generous or just enough to show his regret, he 
might probably have obliterated the effects of his harshness ; 
as it was, Gerard gave no thanks for a boon which saved 
F3 



130 FALKNER. 

his life, but restored him to none of its social blessings. He- 
was still friendless — still orphaned in his affections — still 
the memory of intolerable tyranny, the recurrence of which 
was threatened if he made an ill use of the freedom accord- 
ed him, clung like the shirt of Nessus — and his noble, ardent 
nat!ire was lacerated by the intolerable recollection of sla- 
vish terrors. 

" You saw him at Baden, and it was at Baden that I also 
first knew him. You had left the baths when my mother 
and I arrived. We became acquainted with Sir Boyvill. 
He was still handsome — he was rich — and those qualities 
of mind which ill agreed with Alithea's finer nature did not 
displease a fashionable woman of the world. Such was my 
mother. Something that was called an attachment sprang 
up, and they married. She preferred the situation of wife 
to that of widow : and he, having been accustomed to the 
social comforts of a domestic circle, despite his disasters,, 
dishked his bachelor state. They married ; and I, just then 
eighteen — ^just out, as it is called — became the sister of my 
beloved Gerard. 

" I feel pride when I think of the services that I have ren- 
dered him. He had another fall from his horse not long- 
after, or leather, again urging the animal down a precipice, 
it fell. He was underneath, and his leg was broken. Du- 
ring the long confinement that ensued, I was his faithful 
nurse and companion. Naturally lively, yet I could sympa- 
thize in his sorrows. By degrees I won his confidence. He 
told me all his story — all his feelings. He grew mild and 
soft under my influence. He grew to regret that he had 
been vanquished by adversity so as to become almost what 
he Avas accused of being, a frantic idiot. As he talked of 
his mother, and the care she bestowed on his early years, 
he wept to think how unlike he was to the creature she had 
wished him to become. A desire to reform, to repair past 
faults, to school himself, grew out of such talk. He threw 
off his suUenness and gloom. He became studious at the 
same time that he grew gentle. His education, which had 
proceeded but badly while he refused to lend his mind to 
improvement, was now the object of his own thoughts and 
exertions. Instead of careering wildly over the hills, or be- 
ing thrown under some tree delivered up to miserable rev- 
ery, he asked for masters, and was continually seen with a 
book in his hands. 

" The passion of his soul still subsisted, modulated by his 
new feelings. He continued to believe in the innocence of 
his mother, though he often doubted her existence. He 
longed inexpressibly to unveil the mystery that shrouded 
her fate. He devoted himself in his heart to discovering 
the truth. He resolved to occupy his whole life in the dear 
task of reinstating her in that cloudless purity of reputation 



FALKNER. 131 

■which he intimately felt she had never deserved to forfeit. 
He considered the promise exacted from him by his father 
as preventing him from following up liis design, and as bind- 
ing him till he was twenty-one. Till then he deferred his 
endeavours. No young spendtlirift ever aspired for the at- 
tainment of the age of freedom and the possession of an es- 
tate as vehemently as did Gerard for the hour which was to 
permit him to deliver himself wholly up to this task. 

" Before that time arrived I married. I wished to take 
him abroad with us ; but the unfounded (as I believe) notion 
that the secret of his mother's fate is linked to the English 
shores made him dislike to leave his native country. It was 
oidy on our return that he consented to come as far as Mar- 
seilles to meet us. 

" When he had reached the age of twenty-one he an- 
nounced to his father his resolve to discover his mother's 
fate. Sir Boyvill was highly indignant. The only circum- 
stance that at all mitigated the disgrace of his wife's flight 
was the oblivion into which she and all concerning her had 
sunk. To have new inquiries set on foot, and the forgotten 
shame recalled to the memories of men, appeared not less 
wicked than insane. He remonstrated, he grew angry, he 
stormed, he forbade ; but Gerard considered that time had 
set a limit to his authority, and only withdrew in silence, 
not the less determined to pursue his own course. 

" I need not say that he met with no success; a mystery 
so impenetrable at first, does not acquire clearness after time 
has obscured the little ever known. Whatever were the 
real circumstances and feelings that occasioned her flight, 
however innocent she might then be, time has cemented his 
mother's union with another, and made her forget those she 
left behind. Or may I not say, what I am inclined to be- 
lieve, that thougli the violence of another was the cause a*, 
last of guilt in her, yet she pined for those she deserted — 
that her heart was soon broken — that the sod has long since 
covered her form — while the miserable man who caused all 
this evil is but too eager to observe a silence which pre- 
vents his name from being loaded with the execrations he 
deserves ! I cannot help, therefore, regretting that Gerard 
insists upon discovering the obscure grave of his miserable 
mother — while he, who, whether living or dead, believes her 
to have been always innocent, is to be dissuaded by no ar- 
guments, still less by the angry denunciations of Sir Boyvill, 
whose conduct throughout he looks on as being the primal 
cause of his mother's misfortunes. 

" 1 have told you the tale, as nearly as I can, in the spirit 
in which Gerard himself would have communicated it — 
such was my tacit pledge to him ; nor do I wish, by my sus- 
picions or conjectures, to deprive him of your sympathy, 
and the belief he wishes you to entertain of liis mother's 



132 FALKNER. 

innocence ; but truth will force its way, and who can think 
her wholly guiltless 1 Would to God ! oh, how often and 
how fervently have I prayed that Gerard were cured of the 
madness which renders his life a wild, unprofitable dream ; 
and, looking soberly on the past, consent to bury in oblivion 
misfortunes and errors which are beyond all cure, and which 
it is worse than vain to remember." 



CHAPTER XXI. 

There was to Elizabeth a fascinating interest in the story 
related by Lady Cecil. Elizabeth had no wild fairy-like 
imagination. Her talents, which were remarkable, her 
serious, thoughtful mind, was warmed by the vital heat 
emanating from her affections — whatever regarded these, 
moved her deeply. 

Here was a tale full of human interest, of love, error, of 
filial tenderness, and deep-rooted, uneradicable fidelity. 
Elizabeth, who knew little of life, except through such ex- 
perience as she gathered from the emotions of her own 
heart, and the struggling passions of Falkner, could not re- 
gard the story in the same worldly light as Lady Cecil. 
There was an unfathomable mystery ; but, was there guilt 
as far as regarded Mrs. Neville ? Elizabeth could not believe 
it. She believed, that in a nature as finely formed as hers 
was described to have been, maternal love, and love for 
such a child as Gerard, must have risen paramount to every 
other feeling. Philosophers have said that the most exalted 
natures are endowed with the strongest and deepest-seated 
passions. It is by combating and purifying them that the 
human being rises into excellence ; and the combat is as- 
sisted by setting the good in opposition to the evil. Per- 
haps Mrs. Neville had loved — though even that seemed 
strange — but her devoted affection to her child must have 
been more powerful than a love which, did it exist, appeared 
unaccompanied by one sanctifying or extenuating circum- 
stance. 

Thus thought Elizabeth. Gerard appeared in a beautiful 
and heroic light, bent on his holy mission of redeeming his 
mother's name from the stigma accumulated on it. Her 
heart warmed within her at the thought, that such a tcisk as- 
similated to hers. She was endeavouring to reconcile her 
benefactor to life, and to remove from his existence the 
stings of unavailing remorse. She tried to fancy that some 
secret tie existed between their two distinct tasks ; and that 
a united happy end would spring up for both. 



FALKNER. 133 

After musing for some time in silence, at length she said, 
" But you do not tell me whither Mr. Neville is now gone, 
and what it is that has so newly awakened his hopes." 

" You remind me," replied Lady Cecil, " of what I had 
nearly forgotten. It is a provoking and painful circum- 
stance ; the artifice of cupidity to dupe enthusiasm. You 
must know that Gerard, in furtherance of his wild project, 
has left an intimation among the cottages and villages near 
Dromore, and in Lancaster itself, that he will give two hun- 
dred pounds to any one who shall bring any information 
that will conduce to the discovery of Mrs. Neville's fate. 
This is a large bribe to falsehood, and yet, until now, no one 
has pretended to have anything to tell. But the other day 
he received a letter, and the person who wrote it was so 
earnest, that he sent a duplicate to Sir Boyvill. This letter 
stated that the writer, Gregory Hoskins, believed himself 
to be in possession of some facts connected with Mrs. Ne- 
ville of Dromore, and on the two hundred pounds being pro- 
perly secured to him by a written bond he would commu- 
nicate them. This letter was dated Lancaster — thither 
Gerard is gone." 

" Does it speak of l\Irs. Neville as still alive V asked 
EliKabeth. 

" It says barely the words which I have repeated," Lady 
Cecil replied. " Sir Boyvill, knowing his son's impetuosity, 
hurried down here, to stop, if he could, his reviving, through 
such means, the recollection of his unfortunate lady — with 
what success you have seen ; Gerard is gone, nor can any 
one guess what tale will be trumped up to deceive and rob 
him." 

Elizabeth could not feel as secure as her friend, that no- 
thing would come of tlie promised information. This was 
not strange ; besides, the different view taken by a worldly 
and an experienced person, the tale, with all its mystery, 
was an old one to Lady Cecil ; while, to her friend, it bore 
the freshness of novelty : to the one, it was a story of the 
dead and the forgotten ; to the other, it was replete with 
living interest ; the enthusiasm of Gerard communicated 
itself to her, and she felt that his present journey was full 
of event, the first step in a discovery of all that hitherto had 
been inscnuable. 

A few days brought a letter from Gerard. liady Cecil 
read it, and then gave it to her j'oung friend to peruse. It 
was dated Lancaster ; it said, " My journey has hitherto 
been fruitless ; this man Hoskins has gone from Lancas- 
ter, leaving word that I should find him in London, but in 
so negligent a way as to lower my hopes considerably. 
His chief aim must be to earn the promised reward, and I 
feel sure that he would take more pains to obtain it, did he 
think that it was really within his grasp. 
12 



134 FALKNER. 

" He arrived but a few weeks since, it seems, from Amer- 
ica, whither he migrated, some twenty years ago, from 
llavenglass. How can he bring news of her I seek from 
across the Atlantic ? The veiy idea fills me with disturb- 
ance. Has he seen her] Great God! does she yet live? 
Did slie commission him to make inquiries concerning her 
abandoned child T No, Sophia, my life on it, it is not so ; 
she is dead ! My heart too truly reveals the sad truth to me. 

" Can I then wish to hear that she is no more ] My dear, 
dear mother ! Were all the accusations true which are 
brought against you, still would I seek your retreat, endeav- 
our to assuage your sori'ows ; wherever, whatever you are, 
you are of more worth to me — methinks that you must still 
be more worthy of aflfection than all else that the earth 
contains! But it is not so. I feel it— I know it — she is 
dead. Yet when, where, how] Oh, my father's vain com- 
mands ! I would walk barefoot to the summit of the Andes 
to have these questions answered. The interval that must 
elapse before I reach London, and see this man, is hard to 
bear. What will he tell! Nothing ! often, in my lucid in- 
tervals, as my father would call them, in my hours of des- 
pondency, I fear — nothing ! 

"You have not played me false, dearest Sophy? In tel- 
ling your lovely friend the strange story of my woes, you 
have taught her to mourn my mother's fate, not to suspect 
her goodness T I am half angry with myself for devolving 
the task upon you. For, despite your kind endeavours, I 
read your heart, my worldly-wise sister, and know its unbe- 
lief. I forgive you, for you never saw my mother's face, nor 
heard her voice. Had you ever beheld the purity and in- 
tegrity that sat upon her brow, and listened to her sweet 
tones, she would visit your dreams by day and night, as she 
does mine, in the guise of an angel robed in perfect inno- 
cence. I cannot forgive my father for his accusations ; his 
own heart must be bad, or he could not credit that any evil 
inhabited hers. For how many years that guileless heart was 
laid bare to him ! and if it was not so fond and admiring 
towards himself as he could have wished, still there was no 
concealment, no tortuosity ; he saw it all, though now he 
discredits the evidence of his senses — shuts his eyes, 

' And hooting at the glorious sun in Heaven, 
Cries out, " Where is it ?" ' 

For truth was her attribute ; the open heart, which made 
the brow, the eyes, the cheerful mien, the sweet, loving 
smile and thrilling voice, all transcripts of its pure emotions. 
It was this that rendered her the adorable being, which all 
who knew her acknowledge that she was. 

" I am solicitous beyond measure that Miss Falkner should 
receive no false impression. Her image is before nie, 



FALKNER. 135 

when I saw her first, pale in the agony of fear, bending over 
her dying father ; by day and by night she forgot herself to 
attend on him. She who loves a parent so well can under- 
stand me better than any other. She, I am convinced, will 
form a true judgment. She will approve my perseverance, 
and share my doubts and fears ; will she not ] ask her — or 
am I too vain, too credulous ? Is there in the whole world 
one creature who will join with me in my faith and my la- 
bours ? You do not, Sophia ; that I have long known, and 
the feeling of disappointment is already blunted ; but it will 
revive, it will be barbed with a new sting, if I am deceived 
in my belief that Elizabeth Falkner shares my convictions, 
and appreciates the utility, the necessity of my endeavours. 
I do not desire her pity, that you give me ; but at this mo- 
ment I am blessed by the hope that she feels with me. I can- 
not tell you the good this idea does me. It spurs me to 
double energy in my pursuit, and it sustains me during the 
uncertainty that attends it : it makes me inexpressibly more 
anxious to clear my mother's name in her eyes ; since she 
deigns to partake my griefs^ I desire that she should here- 
after share in the triumph of my success. 

" My success ! the word throws me ten thousand fathoms 
deap, from the thoughts of innocence and goodness, to those 
of wrongs, death, or living misery. Farewell, dearest So- 
phia. This letter is written at night ; to-morrow, early, I 
set out by a fast coach to London. I shall write again, or 
you will see me soon. Keep Miss Falkner with you till I 
return, and write me a few words of encouragement." 

Not a line in this letter but interested and gratified Eliza- 
beth — and Lady Cecil saw the blush of pleasure mantle 
over her speaking countenance ; she was half glad, half 
sorry — she looked on Elizabeth as "she who could cure 
Gerard of his Quixotic devotion, by inspiring him with feel- 
ings which, wjiile they had all the enthusiasm natural to his 
disposition, would detach him from his vain endeavours, and 
centre his views and happiness in the living instead of the dead. 
Lady Cecil knew that Gerard already loved her friend — he 
had never loved before — and the tenderness of his manner, 
and the admiration that lighted up his eyes whenever he 
looked on her, revealed the birth of passion. Elizabeth, less 
quick to feel, or at least more tranquil in the display of feel- 
ing, yet sympathized too warmly with him — felt too deeply 
interested in all he said and did, not to betray that she was 
touched by the divine fire that smooths the ruggedness of 
life, and fills with peace and smiles a darkling, stormy 
world. But instead of weaning Gerard from his madness, 
she encouraged him in it — as she well knew ; for when she 
wrote to Gerard, she asked Elizabeth to add a few lines, 
and thus she wrote : 



138 FALKNER. 

" I thank you for the confidence you repose in me, and 
more than that, I must express how deeply I feel for 
you, the more that I think that justice and truth are on 
your side. Whether you succeed or not, I confess that I 
think you are right in your endeavours — your aim is a noble 
and a sacred one — and, like you, I cherish the hope that it 
will end in the exculpation of one deeply injured — and your 
being rewarded for your fidelity to her memory. Godliless 
you with all the happiness you deserve." 

No subsequent letter arrived from Gerard. Lady Cecil 
wondered and conjectured, and expected impatiently. She 
and her friend could talk of nothing else. The strange fact 
that a traveller from America proclaimed that he had tidings 
of the lost one, offered a fertile field for suppositions. Had 
Mrs. Neville been carried across the Atlantic 1 How im- 
possible was this, against her own consent! No pirate's 
bark was there, with a crew experienced in crime, ready to 
acquiesce in a deed of violence ; no fortalice existed, in 
whose impenetrable walls she could have been immured ; yet 
so much of strange and fearful must belong to her fate, which 
the imagination mourned to think of ! Love, though in these 
days it carries on its tragedies more covertly — and kills by 
the slow, untold pang — by the worm in the bosom — and ex- 
erts its influence rather by teaching deceit than insti- 
gating to acts of violence, yet love reigns in the hearts 
of men as tyrannically and fiercely — and causes as much 
evil, as much ruin, and as many tears, as when, in the 
younger world, hecatombs were slain in his honour. In 
former days mortals wasted rather life than feehng, and 
every blow was a physical one ; now the heart dies, though 
the body lives — and a miserable existence is dragged out, 
after hope and joy have ceased to adorn it ; yet love is still, 
despite the schoolmaster and the legislator, the prime law 
of human life, and Alithea Neville was well fitted to inspire 
an ardent passion. She had a sensibility which, while it 
gave strengtli to her affections, yet diffused a certain weak- 
ness over the mechanism of her being, that made those 
around her tremble ; she had genius which added lustre to 
her eye, and shed around her a fascination of maimer, 
which no man could witness without desiring to dedicate 
himself to her service. She seemed the very object whom 
Sheridan addressed when he said — 

" For friends in every age you'll meet, 
And lovers in the young." 

That she should be loved to desperation could excite no 
wonder — but what had been the effects of this love ? a dis- 
tant home aci'oss the ocean — a home of privation and sor- 
row — the yearning for her lost children — the slow breakmg 
of the contrite heart ; a life dragged on despite the pangs 



FALKNER. 187 

of memory — or a nameless grave. Such were the conjec- 
tures caused by the letter of the American. 

At length Neville returned. Each turned her eye on his 
face, to read the intelligence he had acquired in his speaking 
countenance. It was sad. " She lives and is lost," thought 
Lady Cecil ; " He mourns her dead !" was the supposition 
of the single-minded Elizabeth. At first he avoided the 
subject of his inquiry, and his companions did not question 
him ; till at last he suddenly exclaimed, " Do you not wish 
to learn something, Sophia \ Have you forgotten the object 
of my journey !" 

" Dear Gerard," replied Lady Cecil, " these walls and 
woods, had they a voice, could tell you that we have thought 
and spoken of nothing else." 

" She is dead !" he answered, abruptly. 

A start — an exclamation was the reply. He continued : 
" If there be any truth in the tale I have heard, my dear, in- 
jured jiiother is dead ; that is, if what I have heard concern 
her — mean anything, or is not a mere fabrication. You 
shall hear all by-and-by ; I will relate all I have been told. 
It is a sad story if it be hers, if it be a true story at all." 

These disjointed expressions raised the curiosity and m- 
terest of his auditors to their height. It was evening ; in- 
stead of going on with his account, he passed into the ad- 
joining room, opened the glass door, and stepped out into 
the open air. It was dark, scarcely could you see the dim 
outline of the woods — yet, far on the horizon where sky 
and sea met, there was a streak of light. Sophia and Eliza- 
beth followed to the room whence he had gone, and drew 
their chairs near the open window and pressed each other's 
hands. 

" What can it all mean 1" at length said Lady Cecil. 

" Hush !" whispered EUzabeth — " he is here, I saw him 
cross the streak of hght." 

" True," said Gerard's voice — his person they could not 
distinguish, for they were in darkness ; " I am here, and I 
will tell you now all I have heard. I will sit at your feet ; 
give me your hand, Sophy, that I may feel that you are 
really present — it is too dark to see anything." 

He did not ask for Elizabeth's hand, but he took it, and 
placing it on Lady Cecil's, gently clasped both : " I cannot 
see either of you — but indulge my wayward humour ; so 
much of coarse and commonplace has been thrown on the 
most sacred subject in the world, that I want to bathe my 
soul in darkness — a darkness as profound as that which 
wraps my mother's fate. Now for my story. 
12* 



13S FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

" You know that I did not find tliis man, this Hoskins, at 
Lancaster. By his direction I sought him in London, and, 
after some trouble, found him. He was busy in his own 
affairs, and it was difficult to get at him ; but, by perseve- 
rance, and asking him to dine with me at a coffee-house, I 
at last succeeded. He is a native of Ravenglass, a misera- 
ble town on the seashore of Cumberland, with which I am 
well acquainted, for it is not far from Dromore. He emi- 
grated to America before I was born ; and after various 
speculations, is at last settled at Boston, in some sort of 
trade, the exigences of which brought him over here, and 
he seized the opportunity to visit his family. There they 
were, still inhabiting the forlorn town of Ravenglass ; their 
cottage still looking out on a dreary extent of sand, mud, 
and marsh ; and the far mountains, which would seem to in- 
vite the miserable dwellers of the flats to shelter themselves 
in their green recesses, but they invite in vain. 

" Hoskins found his mother, a woman nearly a hundred 
years of age, alive; and a widowed sister living with her, 
surrounded by a dozen children of all ages. He passed two 
days with them, and naturally recurred to the changes that 
had taken place in the neighbourhood. He had at one time 
had dealings with the steward of Dromore, and had seen 
my father. When he emigrated. Sir Boyvill had just mar- 
ried. Hoskins asked how it went on with him and his 
bride. It is our glorious fate to be in the mouths of the 
vulgar, so he heard the story of my mother's mysterious 
flight ; and, in addition to this, he was told of my boyish 
wanderings, my search for my mother, and my declaration 
that I would give two hundred pounds to any one through 
whose means I should discover her fate. 

" The words fell at first upon a heedless ear, but the next 
morning it all at once struck him that he might gain the re- 
ward, and he wrote to me ; and as I was described as a 
wanderer without a home, he wrote also to my father. 
When I saw him in town, he seemed ashamed of the trou- 
ble I had taken. ' It is I who am to get the two hundred 
pounds,' he said, ' not you ; the chance was worth wasting 
a little breath ; but you may not think the little I have to 
tell worth your long journey.' 

" At length I brought him to the point. At one period, a 
good many years ago, he was a settler in New- York, and 
by some chance he fell in with a man lately arrived from 
England, who asked his advice as to obtaining employment : 



FALKNER. 1^ 

he had some little money — some few hundred pounds, but 
lie did not wish to sink it in trade or the purchase of land, 
but to get some situation with a tolerable salary, and keep 
his little capital at command. A strange way of using 
money and time in America! but such was the fancy of the 
stranger; he said he should not be easy unless he could 
draw out his money at any time, and emigrate at an hour's 
notice. This man's name was Osborne ; he was shrewd, 
ready-witted, and good-natured, but idle, and even unprinci- 
pled. ' He did me a good turn once,' said Hoskins, ' which 
makes me unwilling to do him a bad one ; but you cannot 
injure him, I think, in America. He has risen in the world 
since the time I mention, and has an employment under our 
minister at Mexico. After all, he did not tell me much, and 
what I learned came out in long talks by degrees, during a 
journey or two we took together to the West. He had been 
a traveller, a soldier in the East Indies, and unlucky every- 
where ; and it had gone hard with him at one time in Ben- 
gal, but for the kindness of a friend. He was a gentleman 
far above him in station who got him out of trouble, and 
paid his passage to England ; and afterward, when this 
gentleman returned himself to the island, he found Osborne 
in trouble again, and again he assisted him. In short, sir, 
it came out, that if this gentleman (Osborne irould never 
tell his name) stood his friend, it was not for nothing this 
time. There was a lady to be carried off. Osborne swore 
he did not know who — he thought it a runaway match ; but 
it turned out something worse, for never did girl take on so 
for leaving her home with a lover. I tell the story badly, 
for I never got the rights of it. It ended tragically — the 
lady died — was drowned, as well as I could make out, in 
some river. You know how dangerous the streams are on 
our coast. 

" ' It was the naming Cumberland and our estuaries that 
set me asking questions, which frightened Osborne. When 
he found that I was a native of that part of the world, he grew 
as mute as a fish, and never a word more of lady or friend 
did I get from him ; except, as I guessed, he was well re- 
warded, and sent over the water out of the way ; and he 
swore he believed that the gentleman was dead too. It 
was no murder — that he averred, but a sad tragic accident 
that might look like one ; and he grew as white as a sheet 
if ever I tried to bring him to speak of it again. It haunted 
his thoughts nevertheless : and he would talk in his sleep, 
and dream of being hanged — and mutter about a grave dug 
in the sands, and there being no parson ; and the dark break- 
ers of the ocean — and horses scampering away, and the 
lady's wet hair — nothing regular, but such as often made me 
■waken him; for in wild nights, such mutterings were no 
lullaby. 



140 FALKNER. 

" ' Now, sir, whether the lady he spoke of were your 
lady mother, is more than I can say ; but the time and place 
tally. It is twelve years this summer since he came out ; 
and it had just happened, for his heart and head were full of 
horrors, and he feared every vessel from Europe brought 
out a warrant to arrest him, or the like. He was a chicken- 
hearted fellow ; and I have known him hide himself for a 
week when a packet came from Liverpool. But he got 
courage as time went on ; when I saw him last, he had for- 
gotten all about it ; and when I jeered him about his terrors, 
he laughed, and said all was well, and he should not care 
going to England ; for that the story was blown over, and 
neither he nor his friend even so much as suspected. 

" ' This, sir, is my story ; and I don't think he ever told 
me any more, or that I can remember anything else ; but 
such as I tell it, I can swear to it. There was a lady run 
olf with, and she died, by fair means or foul, before she 
quitted the coast ; and was buried, as we might bury in the 
far West, Avithout bell or prayer-book. And Osborne does 
not know the name of the lady : but the gentleman he knew, 
though he has never since heard of him, and believes him 
to be dead. You best know whether ray story is worth the 
two hundred pounds.' 

" Such, Sophia, is the tale I heard. Such is the coarse 
hand and vulgar tongue that first touches the veil that con- 
ceals my mother's fate." 

" It is a strange stoiy," said Lady Cecil, shuddering. 

" But, on my life, a true one," cried Neville, " as I will 
prove. Osborne is now at l\Iexico. I have inquired at the 
American consul's. He is expected back to Washington at 
the end of this summer. In a few weeks I shall embark 
and see this man, who now bears a creditable character, 
and learn if there is any foundation for Hoskins's conjec- 
tures. If there is — and can I doubt it 1 if my mother died 
as he says, I shall learn the manner of her death, and who 
is the murderer." 

" Murderer !" echoed both his auditors. 

" Yes ; I cannot retract the word. Murderer in effect, if 
not in deed. Remember, I witnessed the act of violence 
which tore my mother from me. He who carried her away 
is, in all justice, an assassin, even if his hands be not im- 
brued with blood. Blood ! did I say 1 Nay, none was shed. 
I know the spot ; I have viewed the very scene. Our 
waste and desolate coast — the perilous, deceitful rivers, in 
one of which she perislied — the very night, so tempestuous 
— the wild west wind bearing the tide with irresistible im- 
petuosity up the estuaries — he seeking the solitary sands — 
perhaps some smuggling vessel lying in wait to carry her 
off unseen, unheard. To me it is as if I knew each act of 
the tragedy, and heard her last sigh beneath the waves 



PALKNER. 14). 

breathed for me. She was dragged out by these men ; 
buried without friend; without (k'ceiit rites; her tomb the 
evil report her enemj' raisrd above her ; her grave the sands 
of tliat dreary sliore. Oh, what wild, what miserable 
thoughts are these ! This tale, instead of alleviating my 
anxious doubts, has taken the sleep out from my eyes. Im- 
ages of death are for ever passing before me ; I think of the 
murderer with a heart tliat pants for revenge, and of my 
beloved mother with such pity, such religious wo, that I 
would spend my life on that shore seeking her remains, so 
that at last I might shed my tears above them, and bear 
them to a more sacred spot. There is an easier way to 
gain both ends." 

" It is a sad, but a wild and uncertain story," remarked 
Lady Cecil, " and not sufficiently plain, I think, to take you 
away from us all across the Atlantic." 

" A far slighter clew would take me so far," replied Gerard, 
*' as you well know. It is not for a traveller to Egypt to 
measure miles with such timidity. My dear Sophy, you 
would indeed think me mad if, after devoting ray life to one 
pursuit, I were now to permit a voyage across the Atlantic 
to stand between me and the slightest chance of having my 
doubts cleared up. It is a voyage which thousands take 
every week for their interest or their pleasure. I do much, 
I think, in postponing my journey till this man returns to 
Washington. At first I had thought of taking my passage 
on the instant, and meeting him on his journey homeward 
from Mexico ; but I might miss him. Yet I long to be on 
the spot, in America ; for, if anything should happen to 
him ; if he should die, and his secret die with him, how for 
ever after I should be stung by self-reproach 1" 

" But there seems to me so little foundation," Lady Ce- 
cil began. Neville made an impatient gesture, exclaiming, 
" Are you not unreasonable, Sophy ] my father has made a 
complete convert of you." 

Ehzabeth interposed, and asked, "You saw this man more 
than once V 

" Who T Hoskins 1 Yes, three times, and he always told 
the same story. He persisted in the main points. That 
the scene of the carrying off of the lady was his native 
shore, the coast of Cumberland ; that the act immediately 
preceded Osborne's arrival in America, twelve years ago ; 
and that she died miserably, the victim of her wretched 
lover. He knew Osborne immediately on his coming to 
New- York, when he was still suffering from the panic of 
such a tragedy, dreading the arrival of every vessel from 
England. At that time he concealed carefully from his 
new friend what he afterward, in the overflow of his heart, 
communicated so freely ; and, in after times, he reminded 
him how^, when an emissary of the police came from Lon- 



142 FALKNER. 

don to seek after some fraudulent defaulter, he, only hearing 
vaguely that there was search made for a criminal, hid him- 
self for several days. That Osborne was privy to, was par- 
ticipator in a friglitful tragedy, which, to my eyes, bears 
the aspect of murder, seems certain. I do not, I cannot 
doubt that my mother died then and there. How] the 
blood curdles to ask ; but I would compass the earth to 
learn, to vindicate her name, to avenge her death." 

Elizabeth felt Gerard's liand tremble and grow cold. He 
rose, and led the way into the drawing-room, while Lady 
Cecil whispered to her friend, " I am so very, very sorry ! 
To go to America on such a story as this, a story which, 
if it bear any semblance to the truth, had better be for ever 
buried in oblivion. Dear Ehzabeth, dissuade him, I entreat 
you." 

" Do you think Mr. Neville so easy of persuasion, or that 
he ought to be ]" replied her companion. " Certainly, all 
that he has heard is vague, coming, as it does, from a third, 
and an interested person. But his whole life has been de- 
voted to the exculpation of his mother ; and, if he Relieves 
that this tale affords a clew to lead to discovery, hr3 is a son, 
and the nature that stirs within him may gift him with a 
clearer vision and a truer instinct than we can pretend to. 
Who can say but that a mysterious yet powerful hand 
is at last held out to guide him to the completion of his 
task 1 Oh, dear Lady Cecil, there are secrets in the moral, 
sentient world, of whicii we know nothing : such as brought 
Hamlet's father before his eyes ; such as now may be stir 
ring in your brother's heart, revealing to him the truth, al- 
most without his own knowledge." 

" You are as mad as he," said Lady Cecil, peevishly. 
"I thought you a calm and reasonable being, who would 
co-operate with me in weaning Gerard from his wild fan- 
cies, and in reconciling him to the world as it is ; but you 
indulge in metaphysical sallies and sublime flights, which 
my commonplace mind can only regard as a sort of intel- 
lectual will-o'-the-wisp. You betray, instead of assisting 
me. Peace be with Mrs. Neville, whether in her grave, 
or, in some obscure retreat, she grieves over the follies of 
her youth. She has been mourned for, as never mother 
was mourned before ; but be reasonable, dear Elizabeth, 
and aid me in putting a stop to Gerard's insane career. 
You can, if you will ; he reveres you — he would listen to 
you. Do not talk of mysterious hands, and Hamlet's 
ghost, and all that is to carry us away to Fairyland ; but of 
the rational duties of life, and the proper aim of a man, to 
be useful to the living, and not spend the best years of his 
life in dreams of the dead." 

" What can I say V replied Elizabeth : " you will be an- 
gry, but I sympathize with Mr. Neville ; and I cannot help 



FALKNER. 143 

saying, though you scoff at me, that. I think that, in all he 
is doing, he is obeying the most sacred law of our nature — 
exculpating tlie innocent, and rendering duty to her who 
has a right, living or dead, to demand all his love." 

" Well," said Lady Cecil, " I have managed very ill ; i had 
meant to make you my ally, and have failed. 1 do not op- 
pose Gerard in Sir Boy vill's open, angry maimer ; but it has 
been uiy endeavour throughout to mitigate his zeal, and to 
change him, from a wild sort of visionary, into a man of 
this world. He has talents, he is the heir to large posses- 
sions, his father would gladly assist any rational pursuit ; 
he might make a figure in his country, he might be anything 
he pleased ; and, instead of this, all is wasted on the un- 
happy dead. You do wrong to encourage him ; think of 
what I say, and use your influence in a more beneficial 
manner." 

During the following days, this sort of argument was 
several times renewed. Lady Cecil, who had heretofore 
opposed Neville covertly, with some show of sympathy, 
the fallacy of which he easily detected, and who had 
striven rather to lead him to forget, than to argue against 
his views, now openly opposed his voyage to America. 
Gerard heard in silence. He would not reply. Nothfng she 
said carried the slightest weight with him, and he had long 
been accustomed to opposition, and to take his own way in 
spite of it. He was satisfied to do so now, without making 
an effort to convince her. Yet he was hurt, and turned 
gladly to Elizabeth for consolation. Her avowed and warm 
approval, her anxious sympathy, the certainty she expressed 
that in the end he would succeed, and that his enthusiasm 
and zeal were implanted in his heart for the express pur- 
pose of his mother's vindication, and that he would fail in 
every higher duty if he now held back ; all this echoed so 
faithfully his own thoughts, that she already appeared a 
portion of his existence that he could never part from, the 
dear and promised reward of all his exertions. 

In the ardour of her sympathy, Elizabeth wrote to Falk- 
ner. She had before written to tell him that she had seen 
again her friend of Marseilles ; she wrote trembUng, fearful 
of being recalled home ; for she remembered the mysterious 
shrinking of her father from the name of Neville. His re- 
plies, however, only spoke of a short journey he was ma- 
king, and a delay in his own joining her. Now again she 
wrote to speak of Neville's filial piety, his mother's death, 
her alleged dishonour, his suffermgs and heroism ; she dilated 
on this subject with fond approval, and expressed her 
wishes for his success in warm and eager terms ; for many 
days she had no reply ; a letter came at last— it was short. 
It besought her instantly to return. " This is the last act 
of duty, of affection, I shall ever ask," Falkner wrote : 



144 FALKNER. 

"comply without demurring, come at once ; come, and hear 
the fatal secret that will divide us for ever. Come ! I ask 
but for a day ; the eternal future you may, you will, pass 
with your new friends." 

Had the writing not been firm and clear, such words had 
seemed to portend her benefactor's death ; wondering, 
struck by fear, inexpressibly anxious to comply with his 
wishes, pale and trembling, she besouglit Lady Cecil to ar- 
range for her instant return. Gerard heard with sorrow, 
but without surprise ; he knew, if her father demanded her 
presence, her first act would be obedience. But he grieved 
to see her suffer, and he began also to wonder by what 
strange coincidence th^y should both be doomed to sorrow, 
through the disasters of their parents. 



CHAPTER XXHI. 

Falkner had parted with his dear adopted child under a 
strong excitement of fear concerning her health. The 
change of air and scene restored her so speedily, that his 
anxieties were of short duration. He was, however, in no 
hurry to rejoin her, as he was taught to consider a tempo- 
rary separation from him as important to her convales- 
cence. 

For the first time, after many years, Falkner was alone. 
True, he was so in Greece ; but there he had an object. 
In Greece, also, it is true that he had dwelt on the past, 
Avriting even a narrative of his actions, and that remorse sat 
heavy at his heart, while he pursued this task. Yet he 
went to Greece to assist in a glorious cause, and to redeem 
his name from the obloquy his confession would throw on 
it, by his gallantly and death. Tliere was something ani- 
mating in these reflections. Then also disease had not at- 
tacked him, nor pain made him its prey — his sensations 
were healthful — and if his reflections were melancholy and 
self-condemning, yet they were attended by grandeur, and 
even by sublimity, the result of the danger that surrounded 
him, and the courage with which he met it. 

Now he was left alone — broken in health — dashed in spir- 
it ; consenting to live — wishing to live for Elizabeth's sake 
— yet haunted still by one pale ghost, and the knowledge 
that his bosom contained a secret which, if divulged, would 
acquire for him universal detestation. He did not fear dis- 
covery ; but httle do they know the human heart who are 
not aware of the throes of shame and anguish that attend 
the knowledge that we are in reality a cheat, tliat we dis- 



FALKNER. 145 

guise our own real selves, and that truth is our worst ene- 
my. Left to himself, Falkiier thought of these things with 
bitterness; he loathed the burden tliat sat upon his soul; 
he longed to cast it otf; yet, when he thought of Ehzabeih ; 
her devoted alTecliou and earnest entreaties, he was again 
a coward ; how could he consent to give her up, and plant 
a dagger in her heart ! 

There was but one cure to the irritation that his spirit 
endured, which was — to take refuge in her society ; and he 
was about to join her, when a letter came, speaknig of Ge- 
rard Neville — the same wild boy they had seen at baden — 
the kind friend of Marseilles, still melancholy, still stricken 
by adversity ; but endowed with a thousand qualities to at- 
tract love and admiration ; full of sentiment and poetry — 
kind and tender as woman — resolute and independent as a 
man. Elizabeth said little, remembering Falkner's pre- 
vious restriction upon his name — but she considered it her 
duty to mention him to her benefactor ; and that being her 
duty to him, it became another to her new friend to assert 
his excellence, lest by some chance Falkner had mistaken, 
and attributed qualities that did not belong to him. 

Falkner's thoughts became busy on this with new ideas. 
It was at once pleasing and painful to hear of the virtues 
of Gerard Neville. The pleasure was derived from the bet- 
ter portion of human nature — the pain from the worst ; a 
lurking envy, and dislike to excellence derived in any de- 
gree from one he hated, and with such sentiment he regard- 
ed the father of Gerard. Still he was the sou of the angel 
he worshipped and had destroyed ; she had loved her child 
to adoration, and to know that he grew up all she would 
have wished would console her wandering, unappeased 
spirit. He remembered his likness to her, and that soften- 
ed him even more. Yet he thought of the past — and what 
he had done ; and the very idea of her son lamenting for 
ever his lost mother filled him with renewed and racking 
remorse. 

That Elizabeth should now for the third time be thrown 
in his way, was strange, and his first impulse was to recall 
her. It was well that Gerard should be noble-minded, en- 
dowed with talent, a rare and exalted being — but that she 
should be brought into near contact with him was evil ; be- 
tween Falkner and Gerard Neville there existed a gulf un- 
fathomable, horrific, deadly ; and any friendship between 
him and his adopted child must cause disunion between 
her and Falkner. He had suffered much, but this last 
blow, a cause for disuniting them, would tax his furtitude 
too much. 

Yet thus it was to be taxed. He received a letter from 
Lady Cecil, of which Elizabeth was ignorant. Its ostensi- 
ble object was to give good tidings of her fair guest's health, 
13 Oi 



146 FALKNER. 

and to renew her invitation to him. But there was a covert 
meaning which Falkner detected. Lady Cecil, though too 
young to be an inveterate matchmaker, yet conceived and 
cherished the idea of the marriage of Neville and Elizabeth. 
In common parlance, Gerard might look higher; but so also 
might Elizabeth, apparently the only daugliter and heir- 
ess of a man of good birth and easy fortune. But this 
went for little with Lady Cecil ; Gerard's peculiar disposi- 
tion — his devotion to his dead mother — his distaste to all so- 
ciety — the coldness he had hitherto manifested to feminine 
attractions, made the choice of a wife difficult for him. 
Elizabeth's heroic and congenial character ; her total inex- 
perience in the world, and readiness to sympathize with 
sentiments which, to the ordinary class of women, would 
appear extravagant and foolish ; all this suited theni for 
each other. Lady Cecil saw them together, and felt that 
intimacy would produce love. She was delighted ; but 
thinking it right that the father should have a voice, she 
wrote 10 Falkner, scarcely alluding to these things, but with 
a delicate tad that enabled her to convey her meaning, and 
Falkner, jumping at once to the conclusion, saw that his child 
was lost to him for ever. 

There arose from this idea a convulsion of feeling, that 
shook him as an earthquake shakes the firm land, making 
the most stable edifices totter. A chill horror ran through 
his veins, a cold dew broke out on his forehead ; it was un- 
natural — it was fatal — it must bring on all their heads ten-^ 
fold ruin. 

Yet wherefore ! Elizabeth was no child of his — Eliza- 
beth Falkner could never wed Gerard Neville — but between 
him and Elizabeth Raby there existed no obstacle. Nay, 
how better could he repay the injury he had done him in 
depriving him of his mother, than by bestowing on him a 
creature, perhaps more perfect, to be his solace and delight 
to the end of his life ? So must it be — here Falkner's pun- 
ishment would begin ; to exile himself for ever from her, 
Avho was the child of his heart, the prop of his existence. 
It was dreadful to think of, but it must be done. 

And how was the sacrifice to be fulfilled 1 by restoring 
Elizabeth to her father's family, and then withdrawing him- 
self to a distant land. He need not add to this the con- 
fession of his crime. No ! thus should he compensate to 
Gerard for the injury done him ; and burning his papers, 
leaving still in mystery the unknown past, die, without its 
ever being known to Elizabeth that he was the cause of 
her husband's sorrows. It was travelling fast, to arrange 
this future for all three ; but there are moments v/hen the 
future, with all its contingences and possibilities, becomes 
glaringly distinct to our foreseeing eye ; and we act as if 
that was, which we believe must be. He would become a 



FALKNER. 147 

soldier once again — and the boon of death would not be for 
ever denied to him. 

To restore Elizabeth to her family was at any rate but 
doing her a long-withheld justice. The child of honour and 
faithful affection — wiio bore a proud name — whose loveli- 
ness of persouand mind would make her a welcome treas- 
ure in any family ; she, despite her generous sacrifices, 
should follow his broken fortunes no longer. If the notion 
of her marrying Neville were a mere dream, still to give 
back to her name and 'station, was a benefit which it was 
unjust any longer to withhold; nor should it be a question 
between them. They were now divided, so shovild they 
remain. He would reveal her existence to her family, 
claim their protection, and then withdraw himself; while 
she, occupied by a new and engrossing sentnnent, would 
easily get reconciled to his absence. 

The first step he took in furtherance of this new resolu- 
tion, was to make inquiries concerning the present state of 
Elizabeth's family — of which hitherto he knew no more 
than what he gathered from her mother's unfinished letter, 
and this was limited to their being a wealthy Catholic fam- 
ily, proud of their ancestry, and devoted to their faith. 
Through his solicitor he gained intelligence of their exact 
situatitni. He heard that there was a family of that name 
in Northumberland ; it was Roman Catholic, and exceed- 
ingly rich. The present head of the family was an old 
man ; he had long been a widower ; left with a family of 
six sons. The eldest had married early, and was dead, 
leaving his widow with four daughters and one son, yet a 
child, who was the heir of the family honours and estates, 
and resided with his mother, for the most part, at the man- 
sion of his grandfather. Of the remaining sons little ac- 
count could be gained. It was the family custom to con- 
centrate all its prosperity and wealth on the head of the 
elde>t son ; and the younger, precluded by their religion, at 
that time, from advancement in their own country, entered 
foreign service. One only had exempted himself from the 
common lot, and become an outcast, and, in the eyes of his 
family, a reprobate. Edwin Raby had apostatized from the 
Catholic faith; he had married a portionless girl of inferior 
birth, and entered the profession of the law. His parents 
looked with indignation on the dishonour entailed on their 
name through his falling off; but his death relieved their 
terroi-s — he died, leaving a widow and an infant daughter. 
As the marriage had never been acknowledged, and female 
offspring were held supernumerary, and an encumbrance in 
the Raby family, they had refused to receive her, and never 
heard of her niore ; she was, it was conjectured, hving in 
obscurity among her own relations. Falkner at once de- 
tected the truth. The despised, deserted widow had died 
G2 



148 FALKNER. 

ill her youth; and the daughter of Edwin Raby was the 
child of his adoption. On this information Falkner regu- 
lated his conduct ; and finding that Ehzabeth's grandfather, 
old Osvvi Raby, resided habitually at his seat in the north of 
England, he — his health now restored sufficiently to make 
the journey without niconvenience — set out for Northum- 
berland, to communicate the existence, and claim his ac- 
knowledgment, of his granddaughter. 

There are periods in our lives when we seem to run 
away from ourselves and our afflictions ; to commence a 
new course of existence, upon fresh ground, towards a 
happier goal. Sometimes, on the contrary, the stream of 
life doubles — runs back to old scenes, and we are con- 
strained to linger ainid the desolation we had hoped to 
leave far behind. Thus was it with Falkner; the past 
clung to him inextricably. What had he to do with those 
who had suffered through his misdeed ? He had fled from 
them — he had traversed a quarter of the earth — he had 
placed a series of years between them ; but there he was 
again — in the same spot — the same forms before him — the 
same names sounding in his ears — the effects of his actions 
impending darkly and portentously over him; seeing no 
escape but by casting away the onl)' treasure of his life — 
his adopted child — and becoming again a solitary, miser- 
able wanderer. 

No man ever suffered more keenly than Falkner the 
stings of remorse ; ijo man ever resolved more firmly to 
meet the consequences of his actions systematically, and 
without outward flinching. Tt was perseverance to one 
goal that had occasioned all his sin and wo; it followed 
him in his repentance ; and though miser^ set a visible 
mark on his brow, he did not hesitate nor delay. The jour- 
ney to Northumberland was long, for he could only pro- 
ceed by short stages ; and all the time miserable reflection 
doubled every mile, and stretched each hour into twice its 
duration. He was alone. To look back was wretched- 
ness — to think of Elizabeth was no solace ; hereafter they 
were to be divided — hereafter no voice of love or gentle 
caress would chase the darkness from his brow — he was to . 
be for ever alone. 

At length he arrived at his destination, and reached the 
entrance to Belleforest. The mansion, a fine old Gothic 
building, adorned by the ruins of an ancient abbey, was in 
itself venerable and extensive, and surrounded by a princely 
demesne. This was the residence of Elizabeth's ancestors 
—of her nearest relations. Here her childhood would have 
been spent — under these venerable oaks — within these an- 
cestral walls. Falkner was glad to think that, in being 
forced to withdraw from her his own protection, she would 
take a higher station, and in the world's eye become more 



FALKNER. 149 

on an equality with Gerard Neville. Everything around 
denoted grandeur and wealth ; the very circumstance that 
the family adhered to the ancient faith of the land— to a 
form uL worship which, though evil in its effects on the 
human mind, is to the eye imposing and magnificent, shed a 
greater lustre round the place, df inquiry, Falkner heard 
that the old gentleman was at Belleforest; indeed, he never 
quitted it; but that his daughter-in-law, with her family, 
were in the south of England. Mr. Raby was very acces- 
sible ; on asking for him, Falkner was instantly ushered in. 

He entered a library of vast dimeubions, and fitted up 
with a sort of heavy splendour ; very imposing, but very 
sombre. The high windows, painted ceiling, and massy 
furniture bespoke an oldfashioned, but almost regal taste. 
Falkner, for a moment, thought himself alone, when a slight 
noise attracted his attention to a diminutive and very white 
old gentleman, wlio advanced towards him. The mansion 
looked built for a giant race ; and Falkner, expecting the 
majesty of size, could hardly contract his view to the slen- 
der and insignificant figure of the preseiit possessor. Oswi 
Raby looked shrivelled, not so much by age as the narrow- 
ness of his mind ; to whose dimensions his outward figure 
had contracted itself. His face was pale and thin; his light 
bUie eyes grown dim ; you miglit have thought that he was 
drying up and vanishing from the earth by degrees. Con- 
trasted with this slight shadow of a man, was a mind that 
saw the whole world almost concentrated in iiimself. He, 
Oswi Raby, he, head of the oldest family in England, was 
first of created beings. Without being assuming in manner, 
he was self-important in heart ; and there was an obstinacy 
and an incapacity to understand that anything was of con- 
sequence except himself, or rather, except the house he rep- 
resented, that gave extreme repulsion to his manners. 

It is always awkward to disclose an errand such as Falk- 
ner's ; it was only by plunging at once into it, and warming 
himself by his own words, that he contrived to throw grace 
rouiT^l his subject. A cloud gathered over the old man's 
features ; he grew whiter, and his thin lips closed, as if they 
had never opened except with a refusal. 

"You speak of very painful circumstances," he said; "I 
have sometimes feared that I should be intruded upon in be- 
half of this person ; yet, after so many years, there is less 
pretence than ever for encroaching upon an injured family. 
Edwin himself broke the tie. He was rebellious and apos- 
tate. He had talents, and might have distinguished himself 
to his honour ; he preferred irreparable disgrace. He aban- 
doned the religion which we consider as the most precious 
j)art of our inheritance ; and he added imprudence to guilt, 
by, he being himself unprovided for, marrying a portionless, 
low-born girl. He never hoped for my forgiveness; he 
13* 



150 FALKNER. 

never even asked it. His death — it is hard for a father to feel 
thus — but his death was a rehef. We were applied to by 
his widow ; but with her we could have nothing to do. She 
was the partner of his rebellion — nay, we looked upon her 
as its primal cause. I was willing to take charge of my 
grandchild, if delivered entirely up to me. She did not 
even think proper to reply to the letter making this conces- 
sion. I had, indeed, come to the determination of continu- 
ing to her a portion of the allowance I made to my son, des- 
pite his disobedience ; but from that time to this no tidings 
of either mother or daughter have reached us." 

" Death must bear the blame of that negligence," said 
Falkner, mastering his rising disgust. " Mrs. Raby was 
hurried to the grave but a few months after your son's 
death, the victim of her devoted affection to her husband. 
Their innocent daughter was left among strangers, who did 
not know to whom to apply. She, at least, is free from all 
fault, and has every claim on her father's family.'' 

" She is nothing, and has no claim," interrupted Mr. Raby, 
peevishly, " beyond a bare maintenance, even if she be the 
person you represent. I beg your pardon, sir, but you may 
he deceived yourself on this subject ; but taking it for granted 
that this young person is the daughter of my son, what is 
she to me V 

" A granddaughter is a relation," Falkner began ; " a near 
and dear one — " 

" Under such circumstances," interrupted Mr. Raby, 
"under the circumstances of a marriage to which I gave no 
consent, and her being brought up at a distance from us all, 
I should rather call her a connexion than a relation. We 
cannot look with favour on the child of an apostate ; edu- 
cated in a faith which we consider pernicious. I am an 
oldfashioned man, accustomed only to the society of those 
whose feelings coincide with mine ; and I must apologize, 
sir, if I say anything to shock you ; but the truth is self-evi- 
dent, a child of a discarded son may have a slender claim 
for support, none for favour or countenance. This young 
person has no right to raise her eyes to us; she must regu- 
late her expectations by the condition of her mother, who 
was a sort of servant, a humble companion or governess, in 
the house of Mrs. Neville of Droniore -" 

Falkner grew pale at the name, but, commanding himself, 
replie:5, " I believe she was a friend of that lady ! I have 
said I was unacquainted with the parents of Miss Raby; I 
foilnd her an orphan, subsisting on precarious charity. Her 
few years — her forlorn situation — her beauty and sweetness, 
claimed my compassion — I adopted her — " 

" And would now throw her off," again interrupted the ill- 
tempered old man. " Had you restored her to us in her 
childhood — had Rho been brought wp in our religion, ajnong 



FALKNBR. 1$) 

US — she would have shared this home with her cousins. As 
it is, you must yourself be aware that it will be impossible 
to admit, as an inmate, a stranger — a person ignorant of our 
peculiar systems — an alien from our religion. Mrs. Raby 
would never consent to it ; and I would on no account an- 
noy her who, as the mother and guardian of my heir, mer- 
its every deference. 1 will, however, consult with her, and 
with the gentleman who has the conduct of my affairs ; and 
as you wish to get rid of an embarrassment, which, pardon 
me if I say you entirely brought on yourself, we will do 
what we judge due to the honour of the family ; but I can- 
not hold out any hopes beyond a maintenance — unless this 
young person, whom I should then regard as my grand- 
daughter, felt a vocation for a religion, out of whose pale I 
will never acknowledge a relation." 

At every word Falkner grew more angry. He always 
repressed any manifestation of passion, and only grew pale, 
and spoke in a lower, calmer voice. There was a pause ; 
he glanced at the white hair and attenuated form of the old 
man, so to acquire a sufficient portion of forbearance, and 
then replied : " It is enough — forget this visit ; you shall 
never hear again of the existence of your outraged grand- 
child. Could you for a moment comprehend her worth, 
you might feel regret at casting from you one whose quali- 
ties render her the admiration of all who know her. Some 
day, when the infirmities of age increase upon you, you 
may remember that you might have had a being near, the 
most compassionate and kind that breathes. 1 f ever you feel 
the want of an aflectionate hand to smooth your pillow, you 
may remember that you have shut yom- heart to one who 
would have been a daily blessing. 1 do not wish to disem- 
barrass myself of Miss Raby — Miss Falkner, rather, let me 
call her; she has borne my name as my daughter for many 
years, and shall continue to retain it, together with my pa- 
ternal guardianship, while I live. 1 have the honour to wish 
you a good-morning." 

Falkner hastily departed ; and, as he threw himself on 
his horse, and at a quick pace traversed the long avenues 
of Belleforest, he felt that boiling of the blood, that inex- 
pressible bursting and tumult of the heart, that accompanies 
fierce indignation and disdain. A vehement desire to pour 
out the cataract of his contempt and anger on the offender, 
was mingled with redoubled tenderness for Elizabeth, with 
renewed gratitude for all he owed her, and a yearning, 
heart-warming desire to take her again to the shelter of his 
love, from whence she should never more depart. ^ 



152 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



Falkner's mind had undergone a total change ; he had 
gone to Belleforest, believing it to be his duty to restore to its 
possessors a dearer tr. asure than any held by them ; he left 
it, resolved never to part from his adopted child. " Get rid 
of an embarrassment!" he repeated to himself; "get rid of 
Elizabeth, of tender affection, truth, and fidelity ! of the 
heart's fondest ties, my soul's only solace ! How often has 
my life been saved and cheered by her only ! And when I 
would saciifice blessings of which I hold myself unworthy, 
1 hear the noblest and most generous being in the world de- 
graded by the vulgar, sordid prejudices of that narrow- 
minded bigot! How paltry seems the pomp of wealth, or 
the majesty of these ancient woods, when it is recollected 
that they are lorded over by such a thing as that !" 

Falkner's reflections were all painful ; his heavily-bur- 
dened conscience weighed him to the earth. He felt that 
there was justice in a part of Mr. Raby's representations ; 
that if Elizabeth had been brought up under his care, in a 
religion which, because it was persecuted, was the more 
valuable in their eyes; participating in their prejudices, and 
endeared to them by habit, she would have had claims, 
which, as she was, unseen, unknown, and totally disjoined 
from them in opinions and feelings, she could never pos- 
sess. He was the cause of this, having, in her infancy, cho- 
sen to take her to himself, to link his desolate fate to her 
brighter one ; and now he could only repent for her sake ; 
yet, for her sake, he did repent, when, looking forward, he 
thought of. the growing attachment between her and the son 
of his victim. 

What could he do ? recall her? forbid her again to see 
Gerard Neville 1 Unexplained commands are ever unjust, 
and had any strong feeling sprung up in either of their 
hearts, they could not be obeyed. Should he tell her all, 
and throw himself on her mercy i He would thus inflict 
deep, irreparable pangs, and, besides, place her in a painful 
situation, where duty would struggle with inclination ; and 
pride and affection both made it detestable to him to create 
such a combat in her heart, and cause her to feel pangs and 
make sacrifices for him. What other part was there to 
take? to remain neiUer 1 let events take their course "? If 
it ended as he foresaw, when a marriage was mentioned, 
he could reveal her real birth. Married to Gerard Neville, 
her relations would gladly acknowledge her, and then he 
could withdraw for ever. He should have much to endure 



FALKNES. 159 

meanwhile ; to hear a name perpetually repeated that thrilled 
to the very marrow of his bones ; perhaps to see the hus- 
band and son of her he had destroyed : he felt sick at heart 
at such a thought; lie put it aside. It was not to-day, it 
could not be to-morrow, that he should be called upon to 
encounter these evils ; meanwhile, he would shut his eyes 
upon them. 

Returning homeward, he felt impelled to prolong his tour ; 
he visited some of the lakes of Westmoreland, and the 
mountain scenery of Derbyshire. The thought of return 
was painful, sn he lingered on the way, and wrote for his 
letters to be forwarded to him. He had been some weeks 
without receiving any from Elizabeth, and he felt extreme 
impatience again to be blpssed with the sight of her handwri- 
ting — he felt how passionately he loved her — how to part 
from her was to part from every joy of life ; he called him- 
self her father — his heart acknowledged the tie in every 
pulsation ; no father ever worshipped a child so fervently ; 
her voice, her smile — and dear loving eyes, where were 
they ! — they were far, but here was something — a little 
packet of letters, that must for the present stand in lieu of 
the dearer blessing of her presence. He looked at the 
papers with delight — he pressed them to his lips— he delayed 
to open them, as if he did not deserve the joy they would 
communicate — as if its excess would overpower him. " I 
purpose parting from her," he thought ; " but still she is 
mine, mine when she traced those lines — mine as I read the 
expressions of her affection ; there are hours of delight gar- 
nered for me in those little sealed talismans that nothing 
future or past can tarnish, and yet the name of Neville will 
be there I" The thought brought a cold chill wath it, and 
he opened the letters hastily to know the worst. 

Elizabeth had half forgotten the pain with which Falkner 
had at one time shrunk from a name become so dear to 
her; when she wrote, her heart was full of Gerard's story 
— and, besides, she had had letters from her father speaking 
of him with kindness, so that she indulged herself by allu- 
ding to it — to the disappearance of his mother and Gerard's 
misery; the trial — the brutality of Sir Boyvill ; and last, to 
the resolution formed in childhood, brooded over through 
youth, now acted upon, to discover his mother's destroyer. 
" Nor is it," she wrote, " any vulgar feeling of vengeance 
that influences him — but the purest and noblest motives. 
She is stigmatized as unworthy — he would vindicate her 
fame. When I hear the surmises, the accusations cast on 
her, I feel with him. To hear a beloved parent accused of 
'guilt, must indeed be the most bitter wo; to believe her in- 
; nocent, and to prove her such, the only alleviation. God 
grant that he may succeed ! — and though I wish no ill to 
any human being, yet rather may the height of evil fall on 
G 3 



154 FALKNER. 

the head of the true criminal, than continue to cloud the 
days of a being whose soul is moulded in sensibility and 
honour !" 

" Thus do you pray, heedless Elizabeth ! May the true 
criminal feel the height of evil ; may he — whom you have 
saved from death — endure tortures compared to which a 
thousand deaths were nothing! Be it so! you shall have 
your wish !" 

Impetuous as fire, Falkner did not pause : something, 
some emotion devouring as fire, wns lighted up in his heart 
— there must be no delay ! — never had he seen the effects 
of his crime in so vivid a light ; avoiding the name of Ne- 
ville, he had never heard that of his victim coupled with 
shame — she was unfortunate, but he persuaded himself that 
she was not thought guilty ; dear injured saint ! had then 
her sacred name been bandied about by the vulgar — she 
pronounced unworthy by the judges of her acts — ignominy 
heaped upon the grave he had dug for her? Was her be- 
loved son the victim of his belief in her goodness? Had 
his youthful life been blighted by his cowardly conceal- 
ments ! Oh, rather a thousand deaths than such a weight 
of sin upon his soul ! He would declare all; offer his life 
in expiation — what more could be demanded ? 

And again — this might be thought a more sordid motive ; 
and yet it was not — Gerard was vowed to the discovery of 
the true criminal : he would discover him — earth would 
render up her secrets. Heaven lead the son to the very 
point — by slow degrees Jiis crime would be unveiled — Eliz- 
abeth called upon to doubt and to believe. His vehement 
disposition was not calculated to bear the slow process of 
such discoveries ; he would meet them, avow all — let the 
worst fall on him : it was happiness to know and feel the 
\vorst. 

Lost for ever, he would deliver himself up to reprobation 
and the punishment of his guilt. Too long he had delayed 
— now all his motives for concealment melted away like 
snow overspread by volcanic fire. Fierce, hurrying destiny 
seized him by the hair of his head — crying aloud, " Murderer, 
offer up thy blood — shade of Alithea, take thy victim !" 

He wrote instantly to Ehzabeth to meet him at their 
home at Wimbledon, and proceeded thither himself. Un- 
fortunately, the tumult of his thoughts acted on his health; 
after he had proceeded a few miles, he was taken ill — for 
three days he was confined to his bed, in a high fever. He 
thought he was about to die — his secret untold. Copious 
bleeding, however, subdued the violence of the attack — and 
weak and faint, he, despite his physician's advice, proceed- 
ed homeward ; weak and faint, an altered man — life had no 
charms, no calls, but one duty. Hitherto he had lived in 
contempt of the chain of eflfects which ever links pain to 



FALKN£R. 155 

evil and of the Providence wliich will not let the innocent 
be for ever traduced. It had fallen on him ; now his pun- 
ishment had begun, not as he, in i!ie happier vehemence of 
passion, had determined, not by sudden, self-inflicted, or 
glorious death — but the slow grinding of the iron wheels of 
destiny, as they passed over him, crushing him in the dust. 

Yet his heart, despite its sufferings, warmed with some- 
thing like pleasure when, after a tedious journey of three 
days, he drew near his home, where he hoped to find Eliza- 
beth. He had misgivings ; he had asked her to return, but 
she might have written to <?quest a delay — no ! she was 
there ; she had been thei-e two days, anxiously expecting 
him. It is so sweet a thing to hear the voice of one we< 
-love welcoming us on our return home I It seems to as- 
sure us of a double existence ; not only in our own identity 
— which wc bear perpetually about with us — but in the heart 
we leave behind, which has thought of us — lived for us, and 
now beats with warm pleasure on beholding the expected 
one. On the whole earth Falkner loved none but Elizabeth. 
He hated himself; the past — the present — the future, as 
they appertained to him, were all detestable ; remorse, grief, 
and loathsome anticipalion made up the sum of feelings 
with which he regarded them : but here, bright and beauti- 
ful; without taint ; all affection and innocence — a monument 
of his own good feelings, a lasting rock to which to moor 
his every hope, stood before him the child of his adoption ; 
his heart felt bursting when he thought of all she was to him. 

Yet a doubt entered to mar his satisfaction — was she 
changed ? If love had insinuated itself into her heart, he 
was rejected ; at least the plenteous, abundant fountain, that 
gave from its own source, would be changed to the still waters 
that neither received increase nor bestowed any overflow- 
ing. Worse than this — she loved Gerard Neville, the sou 
of his victim, he whose life was devastated by him, who 
would regard him with abhorrence. He would teach Eliza- 
beth to partake this feeling. The blood stood chilled in 
Falkner's heart when he thought of thus losing the only 
being lie loved on earth. 

He mastered these feelings when he saw her. The first 
moment, indeed, when she flew to his arms, and expressed 
with eager fondness her delight in seeing him again, was 
all happiness. She perceived the traces of suffering on his 
brow, and chided herself for having remained away so long; 
she promised never to absent herself thus again. Every 
remembered look and tone of her dear face and voice, now 
brought palpably before him, was a medicine to Falkner. 
He repressed his uneasiness, he banished his fears ; for a 
few hours he made happiness his own again. 

The evening was passed in calm and cheering conversa- 
tion No word was said of the friends whom Elizabeth had 



156 falkneK. 

left. She had forgotten them, during the first few hours 
she spent with her father ; and when she did allude to her 
visit, Falkner said, " We will talk of these things to-mor- 
row; to-night let us only think of ourselves." Elizabeth 
felt a little mortified ; the past weeks, the fortunes of her 
friends, and the sentiments they excited, had become a part 
of herself; and she was pained that so much of disjunction 
existed between her and Falkner, as to make that which 
was so vivid and present to her vacant of interest to him ; 
but she checked her disappointment: soon he would know 
her new friend, sympathize in his devotion towards his in- 
jured mother, enter as warmly as she did into the result of 
his endeavours for her exculpation. Meanwhile she yield- 
ed to his wish, and they talked of scenes and countries they 
had visited together, and all the feelings and opinions en- 
gendered by the past ; as they were wont to do in days gone 
by, before a stranger influence had disturbed a world in 
which they lived for each other only — father and daughter 
— without an interest beyond. 

Nothing could be more pure and entire than their affection, i 
and there was between them that mingling of hearts Avhich/ 
words cannot describe ; but which, whenever it is experienced,) 
in whatever relation in life, is unalloyed happiness. There' 
was a total absence of disguise, of covert censure, of mutual 
diffidence ; perfect confidence gave rise to the fearless ut- 
terance of every idea, and there was a repose, and yet an 
enjoyment in the sense of sympathy and truth, which filled 
and satisfied. Falkner was surprised at the balmy sense of 
joy that, despite everything, stole over him ; and he kissed 
and blessed his child, as she retired for the night, with more 
grateful affection, a fuller sense of her merits, and a more 
fervent desire of preserving her always near him, than he; 
had ever before been conscious of experiencing - — 



CHAPTER XXV. 

Elizabeth rose on the following morning, her bosom 
glowing with a sensation of acknowledged happiness. So 
much of young love brooded in her heart, as quickened its 
pulsations, as gave lightness and joy to her thoughts. She 
had no doubts, nor fears, nor even hopes : she was not 
aware that love was the real cause of the grateful sense of 
happiness, with which she avowed, to Heaven and herself, 
that all was peace. She was glad to be reunited to Falkner, 
for whom she felt an attachment at once so respectful, and 
yet, on account of his illness and melancholy, so watchfuF 



FALKNER. 157 

and tender, as never allowed her to be wholly free from 
solicitude when absent from him. Also she expected on 
that morning to see Gerard Neville. When Falkner's let- 
ter came to hasten lier departure from Oakly, she felt grieved 
at the recall, at the moment when she was expecting him to 
join her, so to fill up the measure of her enjoyments; with 
all this, she was eager to obey, and anxious to be with him 
again. Lady Cecil deputed Miss Jervis to accompany her. 
On the very morning of their departure, Neville asked for 
' a seat in the carriage ; they travelled to town together ; ^nd 
■when they separated, Neville told her of his intention of 
immediately securing a passage to America, and since then 
had written a note to mention that he should ride over to 
Wimbledon on that morning. 

The deep interest that Elizabeth took in his enterprise 
made her solicitous to know whether he had procured any 
further information ; but her paramount desire was to intro- 
duce him to Falkner, to inspire him with her sentiments of 
friendship, and to see two persons whom she considered 
superior to the rest of the world bound to each other by a 
mutual attachment ; she wanted to impart to her father a 
pity for Alithea's wrongs, and an admiration for her devoted 
son. She walked in the shrubbery before breakfast, enjoy- 
ing nature with the enthusiasm of love ; she gathered the 
last roses of the departing season, and mingling them with a 
few carnations, hung, with a new sense of rapture, over these 
fairest children of nature ; for it is the property of love to en- 
hance all our enjoyments, " to paint the lily, and add a perfume 
to the rose." When she returned to the house, she was told 
that Falkner still slept, and begged not to be disturbed. She 
breakfasted, therefore, by herself, sitting by the open case- 
ment, and looking on the waving trees, her flowers shed- 
ding a sweet atmosphere aromid ; sometimes turning to her 
open book, where she read of 

" The heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb," 

and sometimes leaning her cheek upon her hand, in one of 
those reveries where we rather feel than think, and every 
articulation of the frame thrills with a living bliss. 

The quick canter of a horse, the stopping at the gate, the 
ringing of the bell, and the entrance of Neville, made her 
heart beat and her eyes light up with gladness. He entered 
with a lighter step, a more cheerful and animated mien, than 
visual. He was aware that he loved. He was assured that 
Elizabeth was the being selected from the whole world who 
could make him happy ; while he regarded her with all the 
admiration, the worship, due to her virtues. He had never 
loved before. The gloom that absorbed him, the shyness 
inspired by his extreme sensitiveness, had hitherto made 
him avoid the society of wonien ; their pleasures, their gay- 
14 



158 FALKNElt. 

ety, their light airy converse, were a blank to hira ; it 
was Elizabeth's sufferings that first led him to remark her : 
the clearness of her understanding, her simplicity, t(ai- 
derness, and dignity of soul won him ; and, lastly, the un- 
bounded, undisguised sympathy she felt for his endeavours, 
which all else regarded as futile and insane, riveted him to 
lier indissohibly. 

Events were about to separate them, but her thoughts 
Avould accompany him across the Atlantic — stand suspended 
while his success was dubious, and hail his triumph with a 
joy equal to his own. The very thought gave fresh ardour 
to his desire to fulfil his task ; he had no doubt of success, 
and, though the idea of his mother's fate was still a cloud in 
the prospect, it only mellowed, without defacing the glow- 
ing tints shed over it by love. 

They met with undisguised pleasure ; he sat near her, and 
gazed with such delight as, to one less inexperienced than 
Elizabeth, would have at once betrayed the secret of his 
heart. He told her that he had found a vessel about to sail 
for New- York, and that he had engaged a passage on board. 
He was restless and uneasy, he feared a thousand chances ; 
he felt as if he were neglecting his most sacred duty by any 
delay ; there was something in him urging him on, telling 
him that the crisis was at hand ; and yet, that any neglect 
on his part might cause the moment to slip by for ever. 
When arrived at New- York, he should proceed with all 
speed to Washington, and then, if Osborne had not arrived, 
he should set forward to meet him. So much might inter- 
vene to balk his hopes ! Osborne might die, and his secret 
die with him. Every moment's delay was crime. The 
vessel was to drop down the river that very night, and to- 
morrow he was to join her at Sheerness. He had come to 
say farewell. 

This sudden departure led to a thousand topics of interest ; 
to his hopes — his certainty that all would soon be revealed, 
and he rewarded for his long suffering. Such ideas led him 
to speak of the virtues of his mother, which were the 
foundation of his hopes. He spoke of her as he remem- 
bered her ; he described her watchful tenderness, her play- 
ful but well-regulated treatment of himself. Still in his 
dreams, he said, he sometimes felt pressed in her arms, and 
kissed with all the passionate affection of her maternal heart ; 
in such sweet visions her cry of agony would mingle ; it 
seemed the last shriek of wo and death. " Can you wonder," 
continued Neville, " can my father, can Sophia wonder, that, 
recollecting all these things, I will not bear without a struggle 
that my mother's name should be clouded, her fate encom- 
passed by mystery and blame, her very warm, kind feel- 
ings and enchanting sensibility turned into accusations against 
her I I do indeed hope and believe that 1 shall learn the truth 



FALKNBfi. 159 

whither I am going, and that the unfortunate victim of law- 
less violence, of whom Osborne spoke, is my lost mother; 
but, if I am disappointed in this expectation, I shall not for 
that give up my pursuit ; it will only whet my purpose to 
seek the truth elsewhere." 

" And that truth may be less sad than you anticipate," 
said Elizabeth ; " yet I cannot help fearing that the miserable 
tragedy which you have heard is connected with your 
mother's fate." 

" That it is a tragedy may well dash my eagerness," re- 
plied Neville; "for, right or wrong, I cannot help feeling, 
that to see her again — to console her for her sufferings — to 
show that she is remembered, loved, idolized by her son, 
would be a dearer reward to me than triumph over the bar- 
barous condemnation of the world, if that triumph is to be 
purchased by having lost her for ever. This is not an he- 
roic feeling, I confess — " 

" If it be heroism," said Elizabeth, " to find our chief good 
in serving others ; if compassion, sympathy, and generosity 
be gTcater virtues, as I believe, than cold self-absorbed 
severity, then is your feeling founded on the purest portion 
of our nature." 

While they were thus talking, seated near each other, 
Elizabeth's face beaming with celestial benignity, and Ne- 
ville, in' the warmth of his gratitude for her approval, had 
taken her hand and pressed it to his lips, the door opened, 
and Falkner slowly entered. He had not heard of the ar- 
rival of the stranger ; but seeing a guest with Elizabeth, he 
divined in a moment who it was. The thought ran through 
his frame like an ice-bolt — his knees trembled under him — 
cold dew gathercid on his brow — for a moment he leaned 
against the doorway, unable to support himself; while 
Elizabeth, perceiving his entrance, blushing, she knew not 
why, and now frightened by the ghastly pallor of his face, 
started up, exclaiming, " My father ! Are you ill ?" 

Falkner struggled a moment longer, and then recovered 
his self-possession. The disordered expression of his 
countenance was replaced by a cold and stern look, which, 
aided by the marble paleness that settled over it, looked 
more like the chiselling of a statue than mortal endurance. 
A lofty resolve to bear unflinchingly was the spirit that 
moulded his features into an appearance of calm. From 
this moment he acquired the strength of body, as well as 
of mind, to meet the destiny before him. The energy of 
his soul did not again fail. Every instant— every word, 
seemed to add to his courage — to nerve him to the utmost 
height of endurance ; to make him ready to leap, without 
one tremour, into the abyss which he had so long and so 
fearfully avoided. 

The likeness of Neville to his mother had shaken bim 



160 FALKNER. 

more than all. His voice, whose tones were the same with 
hers, was another shock. His very name jarred upon his 
sense, but he betrayed no token of suffering. " Mr. Ne- 
ville," said Elizabeth, " is come to take leave of me. To- 
morrow he sails to America." 

" To America ! Wherefore ]" asked Falkner. 

" I wrote to you," she replied ; " I explained the motives 
of this voyage. You know — " 

" I know all," said Falkner ; " and this voyage to America 
is superfluous." 

Neville echoed the word with surprise, while Elizabeth 
exclaimed, " Do you think so 1 You must have good rea- 
sons for this opinion. Tell them to Mr. Neville. Your 
counsels, I am sure, will be of use to him. I have often 
wished that you had been with us. I am so glad that he sees 
you before he goes — if he does go. You say his voyage is 
superfluous ; tell him wherefore ; advise him. Your advice 
will, I am sure, be good. 1 would give the world that he 
did the exact thing that is best — that is most likely to suc- 
ceed." 

Neville looked gratefully at her as she spoke thus eagerly ; 
while Falkner, still standing, his eyes fixed on and scan- 
ning the person of the son of his victim, marble pale, but 
displaying feeling by no other outward sign, scarcely heard 
what she said, till her last words drew his attention. He 
smiled, as in scorn, and said, " Oh, yes, I can advise ; and 
he shall succeed — and he v/ill not go." 

" I shall be happy," said Neville, with surprise. " I am 
willing to be advised — that is, if your advice coincides with 
my wishes." 

" It shall do so," interrupted Falkner. 

*' Then," exclaimed Neville, impetuously, " the moments 
that I linger here will appear to you too many. You will 
desire that I should be on board already — already under sail — 
already arrived. You will wish the man whom I seek should 
be waiting on the sands when I reach the shore !" 

" He is much nearer," said Falkner, calmly ; " he is be- 
fore you. I am he !" 

Neville started ; " You ! What mean you 1 You are not 
Osborne." 

"I am Rupert Falkner; your»mother's destroyer." 

Neville glanced at Elizabeth — his eye met hers — their 
thought was the same, that this declaration proceeded from 
insanity. The fire that flashed from Falkner's eyes as he 
spoke — the sudden crimson that died his cheeks — the hol- 
low though subdued tone of his voice, gave warrant for 
such a suspicion. 

Elizabeth gazed on him with painful solicitude. 

" 1 will not stay one moment longer," continued Falkner, 
" to pain you by the sight of one so accursed as I. You 



FALKNER. 16l 

will hear more from me this very evening. You will hear 
enough to arrest your voyage ; and remember that I shall 
remain ready to answer any call — to make any reparation — 
any atonement you may require." 

He was gone — the door closed ; it was as if a dread 
spectre had vanished, and Neville and Elizabeth looked at 
each other to read in the face of either whether both were 
conscious of having been visited by the same vision. 

" What does he mean ] Can you tell me what to think 1" 
cried Neville, almost gasping for breath. 

" I will tell you in a few hours," said Elizabeth. " I must 
go to him now; I fear he is very ill. This is madness. 
When your mother died, Mr. Neville, my father and I were 
travelling together in Russia or Poland. I remember dates 
— I am sure that it was so. This is too dreadful. Fare- 
well. You sail to-morrow — you shall hear from me to- 
aight." 

" Be sure that I do," said Neville ; " for there is a method 
in his speech — a dignity and a composure in his maimer, 
that enforces a sort of belief. What can he mean ]" 

" Do you imagine," cried Elizabeth, " that there is any 
truth in these unhappy ravings ! That my father, who 
would not tread upon a worm — whose compassionate dis- 
position and disinterestedness have been known to me 
since early childhood — the noblest and yet the gentlest of 
human beings — do you imagine that he is a murderer? 
Dear Mr. Neville, he never could have seen your mother !" 

" Is it indeed so !" said Neville ; " yet he said one word- 
did you not remark 1 — he called himself Rupert. But I will 
not distress you. You will write ; or rather, as my time 
will be occupied in preparations for my voyage, and I 
scarcely know where the day will be spent, 1 will call here 
this evening at nine. If you cannot see me, send me a 
note to the gate, containing some information, either to ex- 
pedite or delay my journey. Even if this strange scene be 
the work of insanity, how can I leave you in distress ? and 
if it be true what he says — if he be the man I saw tear my 
mother from me — how altered — how turned to age and de- 
crepitude ! Yet, if he be that man, then I have a new and 
horrible course to take." 

" Is it so ?" cried Elizabeth, with indignation ; " and can a 
man so cloud his fair fame, so destroy his very existence, 
by the wild words of delirium, that my dear father should 
be accused of being the most odious criminal V 

" Nay," rephed Neville, " I make no accusation. Do not 
part from me in anger. You are right, I do not doubt ; and 
I am unjust. I will call to-night." 

" Do so without fail. Do not lose your passage. 1 little 
knew that personal feeling would add to my eagerness to 
learn the truth. Do not slay for my sake. Come to-night 
U* 



162 FALKNER. 

and learn how false and wild my father's words were ; and 
then hasten to depart — to see Osborne — to learn all ! Fare- 
well till this evening." 

She hurried away to Falkner's room, while stunned — 
doubting — forced, by EUzabeth, to entertain doubts, and yet 
convinced in his heart ; for the name of Rupert brouglit 
conviction home — Neville left the house. He had entered 
it fostering the sweetest dreams of happiness, and now he 
dared not look at the reverse. 

Elizabeth, filled with the most poignant inquietude with 
regard to his health, hastened to the sitting-room which 
Falkner usually occupied. She found him sealed at the ta- 
ble, with a small box — a box she well remembered — open 
before him. He was looking over the papers it contained. 
His manner was perfectly composed — the natural hue had 
returned to his cheeks — his look was sedate. He was, in- 
deed, very different from the man who, thirteen years be- 
fore, had landed in Cornwall. He was then in the prime of 
life ; and if passion defaced his features, still youth, and 
health, and power animated his frame. Long years of grief 
and remorse, with sickness superadded, had made him old 
before his time. The hair had receded from the temples, 
and what remained was sprinkled with gray ; his figure was 
bent and attenuated ; his face careworn ; yet, at this mo- 
ment, he had regained a portion of his former self. There 
was an expression on his face of satisfaction, almost of tri- 
umph ; and, when he saw Elizabeth, the old, sweet smile 
she knew and loved so well lighted up his countenance. 
He held out his hand ; she took it. There was no fever in 
the palm — his pulse was equable ; and when he spoke his 
voice did not falter. He said, " This blow has fallen heav- 
ily on you, my dear girl ; yet all will be well soon, I trust. 
Meanwhile it cannot be quite unexpected." 

Elizabeth looked her astonishment — he continued : — 
" You have long known that a heavy crime weighs on my 
conscience. It renders me unfit to live ; yet, I have not 
been permitted to die. I sought death — but we are seldom 
allowed to direct our fate. I do not, however, complain; I 
am well content with the end which will speedily termi- 
nate all." 

" My dearest father," cried Elizabeth, " I cannot guess 
what you mean. I thought — but no — you are not iU — you 
are not — " 

" Not mad, dearest ■! was that your thought 1 It is a mad- 
ness, at least, that has lasted long — since first you stayed 
my hand on your mother's grave. You are too good, too 
affectionate to regret having saved me, even when you 
hear A^ho I am. You are too resigned to Providence not 
to acquiesce in the way chosen to bring all things to their 
destined end." 



FALKNER. 163 

Elizabeth put her arm round his neck and kissed him. 
" Thank you," said Falkner, " and God bless you for this 
kindness. I shall indeed be glad if you, from your heart, 
pardon and excuse me. Meanwhile, my love, there is some- 
thing to be done. These papers contain an accoimt of the 
miserable past ; you must read them, and then let Mr. Ne- 
ville have them without delay." 

" Nay," said Elizabeth, " spare me this one thing — do not 
ask me to read the history of any one ei-ror of yours. In 
my eyes you must ever be the first and best of human be- 
ings — if it has ever been otherwise, I will not hear of it. 
You shall never be accused of guilt before me, even by 
yourself." 

" Call it, then, my justification," said Falkner. " But do 
not refuse my request — it is necessaiy. If it be pain, par- 
don me for inflicting it ; but bear it for my sake — I wrote 
this narrative when I believed myself about to die in 
Greece, for the chief purpose of disclosing the truth to you. 
I have told my story truly and simply ; you can have it 
from no one else, for no human being breathes who knows 
the truth except myself. Yield, then — you have ever been 
yielding to me — yield, I beseech you, to my solemn request ; 
do not shrink from hearing of my crimes — I hope soon to 
atone them. And then perform one other duty : send these 
papers to your friend — you know where he is." 

" He will call here this evening at nine." 

" By that time you will have finished ; I am going to 
town now, but shall return to-night. Mr. Neville will be 
come and gone before then, and you will know all. I do 
not doubt but that you will pity me — such is your generos- 
ity, that perhaps you may love me still — but you will be 
shocked and wretched, and I the cause. Alas ! how many 
weapons do our errors wield, and how surely does retribu- 
tion aim at our defenceless side ! To know that I am the 
cause of unhappiness to you, my sweet girl, inflicts a pang 
I cannot endure with any fortitude. But there is a remedy, 
and all will be well in the end." 

Elizabeth hung over him as he spoke, and he felt a tear 
warm on his cheek, fallen from her eye — he was subdued 
by this testimony of her sympathy — he strained her to his 
heart ; but, in a moment after, he reassumed his self-com- 
mand, and, kissing her, bade her fareweU, and then left her 
to the task of sori'ow he had assigned. 

She knew not what to think, what image to conjure up. 
His words were free from all incoherence; before her, also, 
were the papers that would tell all — she turned from them 
with disgust ; and then again she thought of Neville, his de- 
parture, his promised return, and what she could say to him. 
It was a hideous dream, but there was no awakening ; she 
sat down, sl^e took out the papers ; the number of pages 



164 FALKNER. 

written in her father's hand seemed a reprieve ; she should 
not hear all the dreadful truth in a few short, piercing words 
— there was preparation. For a moment she paused to 
gather her tlioughts — to pray for fortitude — to hope that the 
worst was not there, but, in its stead, some venial error that 
looked like crime to his sensitive mind ; and then — she be- 
gan to read. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

FALKNER's NARRAtlVlii 

" To palliate crime, and, by investigating motive, to ren- 
der guilt less odious — such is not the feeling that rules my 
pen ; to confer honour upon innocence, to vin(^icate virtue, 
^nd announce truth — though that offer my own name as a 
mark for deserved infamy — such are my motives. And if I 
reveal the secrets of my heart, and dwell on the circum- 
stances that led to the fatal catastrophe I record, so that, 
though a criminal, I do not appear quite a monster, let the 
egotism be excused for her dear sake — within whose young 
and gentle heart I would fain that my memory should be 
enshrined without horror, though with blame. 

" The truth, the pure and sacred truth, will alone find ex- 
pression in these pages. I write them in a land of beauty, 
but of desolation — in a country whose inhabitants are pur- 
chasing by blood and misery the dearest privileges of hu- 
man nature — where I have come to die ! It is night ; the 
cooing aziolo, the hooting owl, the flashing fire-fly, the mur- 
mur of time-honoured streams, the moonlit foliage of the 
gray olive woods, dark crags, and rugged mountains, throAV- 
ing awful shadows, and the light of the eternal stars — such 
are the objects around me. Can a man speak false in the 
silence of night, when God and his own heart alone keep 
watch! when conscience hears the moaning of the dead in 
the pauses of the breeze, and sees one pale, lifeless figure 
float away on the current of the stream ! My heart whis- 
pers that before such witnesses the truth will be truly re- 
corded ; and my blood curdles, and my nerves, so firm amid 
the din of battle, shrink and shudder at the tale I am about 
to narrate. 

" What is crime 1 

" A deed done injurious to others — forbidden by religion, 
condemned by morality, and which human laws are enacted 
to punish. 

-'' A criminal feels all mankind to be his foes, the whole 



FALKNER. 165 

frame of society is erected for his especial ruin. Before he 
had a right to choose his habitation in the land of his fore- 
fathers — and, placing the sacred name of liberty between 
himself and power, none dared check his freeborn steps — 
his will was his law ; the limits of his physical strength were 
the only barriers to his wildest wanderings — he could walk 
erect and fear the eye of no man. He who commits a crime 
forfeits these privileges. Men from out the lowest grade 
of society can say to him, ' You must come with us !' — they 
can drag him from those he loves, immure him in a loath- 
some cell, dole out scant portions of the unchartered air, 
make a show of him, lead him to death, and throw his body 
to the dogs ; and society, which for the innocent would 
have raised one cry of horror against the perpetrators of 
such outrages, look on and clap their hands with applause. 

" This is a vulgar aspect of the misery of which I speak 
— a crime may never be discovered. Mine lies buried ia 
my own breast. Years have passed, and none point at me 
and whisper, ' There goes the murderer !' But do I not feel 
that God is my enemy, and my own heart whispers con- 
demnation 1 I know that I am an impostor — that any day 
may discover the truth ; but more heavy than any fear of 
detection is the secret hidden in my own heart ; the icy 
touch of the death 1 caused creeps over me during the night. 
I am pursued by the knowledge that naught I do can pros- 
per, for the cry of innocence is raised against me, and the 
earth groans with the secret burden I have committed to 
her bosom. That the death-blow was not actually dealt by 
my hand in no manner mitigates the stings of conscience. 
My act was the murderer, though my intention was guilt- 
less of death. 

" Is there a man who at some time has not desired to 
possess, by illegal means, a portion of another's property, 
or to obey the dictates of an animal instinct, and plant his 
foot on the neck of his enemy 1 Few are so cold of blood 
or temperate of mood as not, at some one time, to have felt 
hurried beyond the demarcations set up by conscience and 
law ; few but have been tempted without the brink of the 
forbidden ; but they stopped, while I leaped beyond — there 
is the difference between us. Falsely do they say who al- 
lege that there is no difference in guilt between the thought 
and act ; to be tempted is human ; to resist temptation — 
surely, if framed like me, such is to raise us from our hu- 
manity into the sphere of angels. 

" Many are the checks afforded us. Some are possessed 
by fear; others are endowed by a sensibility so prophetic 
of the evil that must ensue, that perforce they cannot act 
the thing they desire ; they tremble at the idea of being the 
cause of events over whose future course they can have no 
control ; they fear injuring others — and their own remorse. 



166 PALKNER. 

" But I disdained all these considerations — they occurred 
but faintly and ineffectually to my mind. Piety, conscience, 
and moral respect yielded before a feeling which decked its 
desires in the garb of necessity. Oh, how vain it is to an- 
alyze motive I Each man has the same motives ; but it is 
the materials of each mind — the plastic or rocky nature, the 
mild or the burning temperament — that rejects the alien in- 
fluence, or receives it into its own essence and causes the 
act. Such an impulse is as a summer healthy breeze just 
dimpling a still lake to one — while to another it is the whirl- 
wind that rouses him to spread ruin around. 

" The Almighty who framed my miserable being made 
me a man of passion. They say that of such are formed 
the great and good. I know not that — I am neither ; but I 
will not arraign the Creator. I will hope that in feeling 
my guilt — ^in acknowledging the superexcellence of virtue, 
I fulfil, in part, hi« design. After me, let no man doubt but 
that to do what is right is to ensure his own happiness ; or 
that self-restraint, and submission to the voice of conscience; 
implanted in our souls, impart more dignity of feeling, more 
true majesty of being, tlian a peurile assertion of will and 
a senseless disregard of immutable principles. 

^' Is passion known in these days ? Such as I felt, has 
any other experienced it? The expression has fled from 
our lips ; but it is as deep-seated as ever in our hearts. 
Who, of created beings, has not loved ? Who, of my sex, 
has not felt the struggle, and the yielding in the struggle, of 
the better to the worse parts of our nature ! Who so dead 
to nature's influence as not, at least for some brief moments, 
to have felt that body and soul were a slight sacrifice to ob- 
tain possession of the affections of her he loved? Who, 
for some moments in his life, would not have seen his mis- 
tress dead at his feet rather than wedded to another 1 To feel 
this tyranny of passion is to be human ; to conquer it is to 
be virtuous. He who conquers himself is, in my eyes, the 
only true hero. Alas, I am not such ! I am among the 
vanquished, and view the wreteh I am, and learn that there 
is nothing so contemptible, so pitiable, so eternally misera- 
ble, as he who is defeated in his conflict with passion. 

*' That I am such, this veiy scene— this very occupation 
testifies. Once the slave of headlong impulse, I am now 
the victim of remorse. I am come to seek death, because 
I cannot retrieve the past ; I long for the moment when the 
bullet shall pierce my flesh, and the pains of dissolution 
gather round me. Then I may hope to be, that for which I 
thirst, free * There is one who loves me. She is pure and 
kind as a guardian angel- — she is as my own child — she im- 
plores me to live. With her my days might pass in a 
peace and innocence that saints might envy ; but so heavy 



FALKNEK. 167 

are the fetter? of memory, so bitter the slavery of my soul, 
Xhat even slie cannot take away the sting from hfe. 

" Death is all I covet. When these pages are read, the 
hand that traces them will be powerless — the brain that dic- 
tates will have lost its functions. This is my last labour — 
my legacy to my fellow-beings. Do not let them disdain 
the outpourings of a heart which for years has buried its 
recollections and remorse in silence. The waters were 
pent up by a dam — now they rush impetuously forth — they 
roar as if pursued by a thousand torrents — their turmoil 
deafens heaven ; and what though their sound be only con- 
veyed by the little implement that traces these lines — not 
less headlong than the swelling waves is the spirit that 
pours itself out in these words. 

" I am calmer now — I have been wandering beside the 
stream — and, despite the lurking foe and deceptive moon- 
beams, I have ascended the steep mountain's side — and 
looked out on the misty sea, and sought to gain from repo- 
sing nature some relief to my sense of pain. The hour of 
midnight is at hand — all is still — I am calm, and with delib- 
eration begin to narrate that train of circumstances, or 
rather of feelings, that hurried me first to error, then to 
crime, and, lastly, brought me here to die. 

" I lost my mother before I can well remember. I have 
a confused recollection of her crying — and of her caressing 
me — and I can call to mind seeing her ill in bed, and her 
blessing me ; but these ideas are rather like revelations of 
an ante-natal life, than belonging to reality. She died when 
I was four years old. ]My childhood's years were stormy 
and drear. My father, a social, and, I believe, even a polite 
man in society, was rough and ill-tempered at home. He 
had gambled away his own slender younger brother's for- 
tune and his wife's portion, and was too idle to attend to a 
profession, and yet not indolent enough for a life devoid of 
purpose and pursuit. Our family was a good one ; it con- 
sisted of two brothers, my father, and my uncle. This lat- 
ter, favoured of birth and fortune, remained long unmarried; 
and was in weak health. My father expected him to die. 
His death, and his own consequent inheritance of the family 
estate, was his constant theme ; but the delayed hope irri- 
tated him to madness. I knew his humour even as a child, 
and escaped it as I could. His voice, calling my name, 
made my blood run cold ; his epithets of abuse, so fre- 
quently applied, filled me with boiling but ineffectual rage. 

" I am not going to dwell on those painful days when, a 
weak, tiny boy, I felt as if I could contend with the pater- 
nal giant ; and did contend, till his hand felled me to the 
ground, or cast me from his threshold with scorn and seem- 
ing hate. I dare say he did not hate me ; but certainly uo 
touch of natural love warmed his heart. 



168 FALKNER. 

" One day he received a letter from his brother — I was 
but ten years old, but rendered old and care-worn by suffer- 
ing ; 1 remember that I looked on him as he took it and ex- 
claimed, ' From Uncle John! What have we here V with 
a nervous tremour as to the passions the perusal of it might 
excite. He chuckled as he broke the seal — he fancied that 
he called him to his dying bed — ' And that well over, you 
shall go to school, my fine fellow,' he cried; 'we shall have 
no more of your tricks at home.' He broke the seal, he 
read the letter. It announced his brother's marriage, and 
asked him to the wedding. I let fall the curtain over the 
scene that ensued : you would have thought that a villanous 
fraud had been committed, in which 1 was implicated. He 
drove me with blows from his door ; I foamed with rage, 
and then I sat down and wept, and crept away to the fields, 
and wondered why I was born, and longed to kill my uncle, 
who was the cause to me of so much misery. 

" Everything changed for the worse now. Hitherto my 
father had lived on hope — now he despaired. He took to 
drinking, which exalted his passions and debased his reason. 
This at times gave me a superiority over him — when tipsy, 
I could escape his blows — which yet, when sober, felJ on 
me with double severity. But even the respite I gained 
through his inebriety afforded me no consolation — I felt at 
once humbled and indignant at the shame so brought on us. 
I, child as I was, expostulated with him — I was knocked 
down, and kicked from the room. Oh, what a world this 
appeared to me ! a war of the weak with the strong — and 
how I despised everything except victory. 

" Time wore on. My uncle's wife bore him in succes- 
sion two girls. This was a respite. My father's spirits 
rose — but, fallen as he was, he could only celebrate liis re- 
awakened hopes by deeper potations and coarse jokes. 
The next offspring was a boy — he cost my father his life. 
Habits of drink had inflamed his blood — and his violence 
of temper made him nearly a maniac. On hearing of the 
birth of the heir, he drank to drown thought ; wine was too 
slow a medicine ; he quaffed deeply of brandy, and fell into 
a sleep, or rather torpor, from which he never after awoke. 
It was better so — he had spent everything — he was deeply 
in debt — he had lost all power of raising himself from the 
state of debasement into which he had fallen — the next day 
would have seen him in prison. 

" I was taken in by my uncle. At first the peace and 
order of the household seemed to me paradise — the com- 
fort and regularity of the meals was a sort of happy and 
perpetual miracle. My eye was no longer blasted by the 
sight of frightful excesses, nor my ear wounded by obstrep- 
erous shouts. I was no longer reviled — I no longer feared 
being felled to the ground — I was not any more obliged to 



FALKNER. 169 

obtain food by stratagem or by expostulations, which al- 
ways ended by tny being the victim of personal violence. 
The mere calm was balmy, acid I fancied myself free, be- 
cause I was no longer in a state of perpetual terror. 

" But soon I felt the cold and rigid atmosphere that, as far 
as regarded me, ruled this calm. No eye of love ever turn- 
ed on me, no voice ever spoke a cheering word. I was 
there on suflerance, and was quickly deemed a troublesome 
inmate ; while the order and regularity required of me, and 
the law passed that I was never to quit the house alone, 
became at last more tormenting than the precarious, but 
wild and precious liberty of my former life. My habits 
were bad enough ; my father's vices had fostered my evil 
qualities — 1 had never learned to lie or cheat, for such was 
foreign to my nature ; but 1 was rough, self-willed, lazy, and 
insolent. I have a feeling, such was my sense of bliss on 
first entering the circle of order and peace, that a very lit- 
tle kindness would have subdued my temper and awakened 
a desire to please. It was not tried. From the very first 
I was treated with a coldness to which a child is peculiarly 
sensitive ; the servants, by enforcing the rules of the house, 
became first my tormentors, and then my enemies. I grew 
imperious and violent — complaint, reprehension, and pun- 
ishment despoiled my paradise of its matin glow — and then 
I returned at once to my own bad self; I was disobedient 
and reckless ; soon it was decreed that 1 was utterly intol- 
erable, and I was sent to school. 

" This, a boy's common fate, I had endured without a 
murmur, had it not been inflicted as a punishment, and I 
made over to my new tyrants, even in my own hearing, as 
a little blackguard, quite irreclaimable, and only to be kept 
in order by brute force. It is impossible to describe the 
effect of this declaration of my uncle — followed up by the 
masters recommendation to the usher to break, my spirit if 
he could not bend it — had on my heart, which was bursting 
with a sense of injury, panting for freedom, and resolved 
not to be daunted by the menaces of the tyrants before me. 
I declared war with my whole soul against the world ; I be- 
came all I had been painted ; I was sullen, vindictive, des- 
perate. I resolved to run away ; I cared not what would 
befall me ; I was nearly fourteen — I was strong, and could 
work — I could join a gang of gipsies, I could act their life 
singly, and, subsisting by nightly depredation, spend my 
days in liberty. 

" It was at an hour when I was meditating flight that the 
master sent for me. I believed that some punishment was 
in preparation. I hesitated whetlier I should not instantly 
fly — a moment's thought told me that tliat was impossible, 
and that I must obey. I went with a dogged air, and a de- 
termination to resist. I found my tyrant with, a letter in his 
15 H 



170 FALKNER. 

hand. ' I do not know what to do with you,' he said ; * I 
have a letter here from a relation, asking you to spend the 
day. You deserve no indulgence, but tor this once you 
may go. Remember, any future permission depends upon 
your turning over an entirely new leaf. Go, sir; and be 
grateful to my lenity, if you can. Remember, you are to 
be home at nine.' 1 asked no questions — I did not know 
where I was to go ; yet I left him without a word. 1 was 
sauntering back to the prison-yard which they called a play- 
ground, when I was told that there was a pony-chaise at 
the door ready to take mc. My heart leaped at the word ; 
I fancied that, by means of this conveyance, I could pro- 
ceed on the first stage of my flight. The pony-rarri-ige 
was of the humblest description ; an old man drove. I got 
in, and away we trotted, the little cob that drew it going 
much faster than his looks gave warrant. The driver was 
deaf — I was sullen — not a word did we exchan^^e. My plan 
was, that he should take me to the farthest pomt he intend- 
ed, and then that I should leap out and take to my heels. 
As we proceeded, however, my rebel fit somewhat sub- 
sided. We left the town in which the school was situated, 
and the dreary, dusty roads I was accustomed to perambu- 
late under the superintendence of the ushers. We entered 
shady lanes and umbrageous groves ; we perceived exten- 
sive prospects, and saw the winding of romantic streams ; 
a curtain seemed drawn from before the scenes of nature ; 
and my spirits rose as I gazed on new objects, and saw 
earth spread wide and free around. At first this only ani- 
mated me to a keener resolve to fly ; but, as we went on, a 
vague sentiment possessed my soul. The skylarks winged 
up to heaven, and the swallows skimmed the green earth; 
I felt happy because nature was gay, and all things free and 
at peace. We turned from a lane redolent with honey- 
suckle into a little wood, whose short thick turf was inter- 
spersed with moss and starred with flowers. Just as we 
emerged I saw a little railing, a rustic green gate, and a cot- 
tage clustered over with woodbine and jessamine, standing 
secluded among, yet peeping out from the overshadowing 
trees. A little peasant boy threw open the gate, and we 
drove up to the cottage door. 

"At a low window which opened on the lawn, in a large 
arm-chair, sat a lady, evidently marked by ill health, yet 
with something so gentle and unearthly in her appearance 
as at once to attraci and please. Her complexion had faded 
into whiteness — her hair was nearly silver, yet not a grizzly 
grayish white, but silken still in its change ; her dress was 
also white — and there was something of a withered look 
about her — redeemed by a soft, but bright gray eye, and 
more by the sweetest smile in the world, which she wore, 
as, rising from her chair, she embraced me, exclaiming, ' I 



FALKNER. 171 

know you from your likeness to your mother — dear, dear 
Rupert.' 

" That name of itself touched a chord which for many 
years had been mine. My mother had called me by that 
name ; so indeed had my father, when any momentary soft- 
ness of feeling allowed him to give me any other appella- 
tion except ' Vousirl' ' Vou dog, you!' My uncle, after 
whom I was also called John, chose to drop what he called 
a silly, romantic name ; and in his house, and in his letters, 
I was always John. Kupert breathed of a dear home and 
my motiier's kiss; and I looked inquiringly on her who 
gave it me, when my attention was attracted, rivijted by 
the vision of a lovely girl, who had glided in from another 
room, and stood near us, radiant in youth and beauty. She 
was, indeed, supremely lovely — exuberant in all ihe charms 
of girlhood — and her beauty was enhanced by the very con- 
trast to the pale lady bj^ whom she stood — an houri she 
seemed, standing by a disiinbodied spirit — black, soft, larg« 
eyes, overpowering in their lustre, and yet more so from 
the soul that dwelt within — a cherub look — a fairy form; 
with a complexion and shape that spoke of health and joy. 
What could it mean 1 Who could she be ? And who was 
she who knew my name ^ It was an enigma, but one full 
of promise to me, who had so long been exiled from the 
charities of life ; and who, ' as the hart panteth for the wa- 
ter brooks,' panted for love. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

" After a little explanation, I discovered who my new 
friends were. The lady and my mother were remotely re- 
lated ; hut they had been educated together, and separated 
only when they married. My niothei's death had prevented 
my knowing that such a relation existed ; far less that she 
took the warmest interest in the son of her earliest friend. 
Mr-!. Rivers had been the poorer of the two, and for a long 
time considered that her childhood's companion was moving 
in an elevated sphere of life, while she had married a lieu- 
tenant in the navy; and while he was away, attending the 
duties of his profession, she lived in retirement and econo- 
my, in the rustic, low-roofed, yet picturesque and secluded 
cottage, whose leaf-shrouded casements and flowery lawn 
even now are before me, and speak of peace. I never call 
to mind that abode of tranquillity without associating i 
with the poet's wish : — 

H3 



iti FALKNER. 

' Mine be a cot beside the hill — 

A beehive's hum shall sooth my ear ; 
A willowy brook, that tume a mill, 
With many a fall shall linger near.' 

To any one who fully understands and appreciates tlie pecu- 
liar beauties of England — who knows how much elegance, 
content, and knowledge can be sheltered under such a roof, 
these lines must ever, I think, as to me, have a mui«ic of 
their own, and, unpretending as they are, breathe the very 
soul of happiness. In this imbowered cot, near which a 
clear stream murmured — which was clustered over by a 
thousand odoriferous parasites — which stood in the seclu- 
sion of a beech wood — there dwelt something more endear- 
ing even than all this — and one glance at the only daughter 
of Mrs. Rivers served to disclose that an angel dwelt in the 
paradise. 

'• Alilhea Rivers — there is music, and smiles, and tears — 
a whole life of happiness — and moments of intensest trans- 
port in the sound. Her beauty was radiant; her dark eastern 
eye, shaded by the veined and darkly-fringed lid, beamed 
with a soft but penetrating fire; her face of a perfect oval, 
and lips which were wreathed into a thousand smiles, or 
softly and silently parted, seemed the home of every tender 
and poetic expression which one longed to hear them breathe 
forth; her brow clear as day; her swan throat and symmet- 
rical and fairy-like form disclosed a perfection of loveliness, 
that the youngest and least susceptible must have fell, even 
if they did not acknowledge. 

" She had two qualities which I have never seen equalled 
sepirately, but which, united in her, formed a spell no one 
could resist — the most acute sensitiveness to joy or grief in 
her own person, and the most lively sympathy with these 
feelings in others. I have seen her so enter heart and soul 
into the sentiments of one in whom she was interested, that 
her whole being took the colour of their mood ; and her very 
features and complexion appeared to alter in unison with 
theirs. Her temper was never ruffled; she could not be 
angry; she grieved too deeply for those who did wrong; 
but slie could be glad ; and never have I seen joy, the very 
sunshine of the soul, so cloudlessly expressed as in her coun- 
tenance. She could .subdue the stoutest heart by a look — a 
word ; and were she ever wrong herself a sincere acknowl- 
edgment, an ingenuous shame — grief to have offended, and 
eagerness to make reparation, turned her very error into 
a virtue. Her spirits were high, even to wildness; but, 
at their height, tempered by such thought for others, such 
inbred feminine softness, that her most exuberant gayety 
resenibled heart-cheering music, and made each bosom 
respond. All, everything loved her; her mother idolized 
her ; each bird of the grove knew her ; and I felt sure that 



FALKNER. 173 

the very flowers she tended were conscious of, and rejoiced 
in, her presence. 

" Since my birth — or at least since I had lost my mother 
in enrly infuncy, my path had been cast upon tdorn.s and 
brHnibles — blows and stripes, cold neglect, reprehension, 
and debasing slavery ; to such was I doomed. 1 had longed 
for something to love — and in the desire to possess some- 
thing whose affections were my own, I had secreted at 
school a liitie nest of field mice on which I tended ; but human 
being there was none who marked me, except to revile, and 
my proud heart rose in indignation against them. Mrs. 
Rivers had heard a sad story of my obduracy, my indolence, 
my violence ; she had expected to see a savage, but my 
likeness to my mother won her heart at once, and the affec- 
tion I met transformed me at once into something worthy 
of her. I had been told I was a reprobate till I half believed. 
I felt that there was war between me and my tyrants, and I 
was desirous to make them suffer even as they made me. 
I read in books of the charities of life — and the very words 
seemed only a portion of that vast system of imposture with 
which the strong oppressed the weak. I did not believe in 
love or beauty ; or if ever my heart opened to it, it was to 
view it in external nature, and to wonder how all of per- 
ceptive and sentient in this wondrous fabric of the universe 
was instinct with injury and wrong. 

"Mrs. Rivers was a woman of feeling and sense. She 
drew me out — she dived into the secrets of my heart; for 
my mother's sake she loved me, and she saw that to implant 
sentimenis of affection was to redeem a character not ungen- 
erous, and far, far from cold — whose evil passions had been 
fostered as in a hotbed, and wliose better propensities were 
nipped in the bud. She strove to awaken my susceptibility 
to kindness, by lavishing a thousand marks (,f favour. She 
called me her son — her friend; she taught me to look upon 
her regard as a possession of which nothing' could deprive 
me, and to consider herself and her daughter as near and 
dear ties that could not be rent away. She imparted happi- 
ness, she awoke gratitude, and made me in my innermost 
heart swear to deserve her favour. 

" I now entered on a new state of being, and one of which 
I had formed no previous idea. I believed that the wish to 
please one who was dear to me would render every ta^k 
easy; that I did wrong merely from caprice and revenge, 
and that if I cliose, I could with my finger stem and dire'^t 
the tide of my passions. I was astonished to find that I 
could not even bend my mind to attention — and I was angry 
with myself, when I felt my breast boiling with tninultu.ius 
rage, when 1 promised myself to be meek, enduring, and 
gentle. My endeavours to conquer these evil habits were 
indeed arduous. I forced myself by fits and starts to study 



hi 



FALKNER. 



sedulously — I yielded obedience to our school laws ; I taxei 
myself to bear with pMtieiice the injustice and impertinence 
of the ushers, and the undisguised tyranny of the master. 
But I could not for ever string myself to this pitch. Mean- 
ness, and falsehood, and injustice again and again awoke the 
tiger in me. 1 am not going to narrate my boyhood's 
wrongs ; I was doomed. Sent to school with a bad character, 
which at first I had taken pains to de.serve, and afterward 
doing right in my own way, and still holding myself aloof 
from all, scorning their praise, and untouched by their cen- 
sure, I gained no approbation, and was deemed a dangerous 
savage, whose nails must be kept close pared, and whose 
limbs were still to be fettered, lest he should rend his keepers. 
" From such a scene I turned, each Sunday morning, my 
willing steps to the cottage of Mrs. Rivers. There waS 
something fascinating to me in the very peculiarities of her 
appearance. Ill health had brought premature age upon her 
person — but her mind was as active and young — her feelings 
as warm as ever. She could only stand for a few minutes, 
and could not unassisted walk across the room — she took 
hardly any nourishment, and looked, as I have said, more like 
a spirit than a woman. Thus deprived of every outward 
resource, her mind acquired, from habits of reflection and 
resignation, aided by judicious reading, a penetration and 
delicacy quite unequalled. There was a philosophical truth 
in all her remarks, adorned by a feminine tact and extreme 
warmth of heart, that rendered her as admirable as she was 
endearing. Sometimes she sufiTered great pain, but, for the 
most part, her malady, which was connected with the spine, 
had only the effect of extreme weakness, and at the same 
time of rendering her sensations acute and delicate. The 
odour of flowers, the balmy air of morning, the evening 
breeze almost intoxicated her with delight ; any dissonant 
sound appeared to shatter her — peace was within, and she 
coveted peace around; and it was her dearest pleasure when 
we — I and her lovely daughter — were at her feet, she play- 
ing with the sunny ringlets of Alithea's hair, and I listening, 
with a thirst for knowledge — and ardour to be taught ; while 
she with eloquence mild and cheering, full of love and 
wisdom, charmed our attentive ears, and caused us to hang 
on all she said as on the oracles of a divinity. 

" At times we left her, and Alithea and I wandered through 
the woods and over the hills ; our talk was inexhaustible, 
now canvassing some observation of her mother, now pour- 
ing out our own youthful bright ideas, and enjoying the 
breezes and the waterfalls, and every sight of nature, with a 
rapture unspeakable. When we came to rugged uplands, or 
some swollen brook, 1 carried my young companion over in 
my arms; 1 sheltered her with my body from the storms 
that f?ometime8 overtook us. I waa her protector and her 



i-ALKNfiR. i*7S 

Stay; and the very office filled me with pride and joy. 
When fatigued by our rambles, we returned home, bringing 
garlands of wild flowers fur the invalid, whose wisdom we 
revered, whose maternal tenderness was our joy ; and yet, 
whose weakness made her, in some degree, dependant on 
us, and gave the form of a voluntary tribute to the attentions 
we delighted to p-jy her. 

" Oh, hnd 1 never returned to school, this life had been a 
foretaste of heaven ! but there I returned, and there again I 
found rebuke, injustice, my evil passions, and the fiends who 
tormented me. How my heart revolted from the contrast ! 
with what inconceivable struggles 1 tried to subdue my 
hatred, to be as charitable and forgiving as Mrs. Rivers im- 
plored me to be; but my tormentors had the art of rousing 
the savage again, and, despite good resolves, despite my very 
pride, which urged me merely to despise, 1 was again 
violent and rebelHous ; again punished, again vowing re- 
venge, and longing to obtain it. 1 cannot imagine — even 
the wild passions of my after life do not disclose — more 
violent struggles than those I went through. I returned 
from my friends, my heart stored with affectionate senti- 
ments and good intentions ; my brow was smooth, my mind 
unruffled; my whole soul set upon at once commanding 
myself, and proving to my tyrants that they could not disturb 
the sort of heavenly calm with whicli I was penetrated. 

" On such a day, and feeling thus, I came back one even- 
ing from the cottage. I was met by one of the ushers, who, 
in a furious voice, demanded the key of my room, threaten- 
ing me with punishment if I ever dared lock it again. This 
was a sore point; my little family of mice had their warm 
liest in my room, and I knew that they would be torn from 
me if the animal before me penetrated into my sanctuary 
before I could get in to hide them ; but the fellow had learned 
from the maids that 1 had some pets, and was resolute to 
discover them. I cannot dwell on the puerile yet hideous 
minutiae of such a scene ; the loud voice, the blow, the key 
torn from me, the roar of malice with which my pets were 
hailed, the call for the cat. My blood ran cold ; some slave 
— among boys even there are slaves — threw into the room 
the tiger animal ; the usher showed her her prey; but before 
she could spring I caught her up, and whirled her out of the 
window The usher gave me a blow with a stick; I was a 
well-grown boy, and a match for him unarmed ; he struck 
me on the head, and then drew out a knife, that he might 
himself commence the butcher's work on my favourites: 
stimned by the blow, but casting aside all the cherished calm 
1 had hitiierto maintained, my blood boiling, my whole 
frame convulsed with passion, I sprung on him. We both 
fell on the ground, his knife was in hand, open; in our 
struggle I seized the weapon, and the fellow got cut in the 



176 FALKNER. 

head — of course I inflicted the wound ; but had, neither 
before nor at that time, the iiiltMilion; our stru2:gle was furi- 
ous ; we were both in a slate of phrensy, and an opi^n knife at 
such a moment can hardly fail to do injury ; I saw the blood 
pouring from his temple, and his efforts slacken. I jumped 
up, called furioussly for help, and when the servants and 
boys rushed into the room, I made my escape. I leaped 
from the window, high as it was, and alighted, ainiost by a 
miracle, unhurt on the turf below; 1 made my way wi?h ail 
speed across the fields. Methought the guilt of murder was 
on my soul, and yet 1 fell exultation that at last 1, a boy, had 
brought upon the head of my foe some of the tortures he 
had so often inflicted upon me. By this desperate act I 
believed that I had severed the cords that bound me to the 
vilest servitude. 1 knew not but that houseless want would 
be my reward, but I felt light as air and free as a bird. 

" Instinctively my steps took the direction of my beloved 
cottage ; yet I dared not enter it. A few hours ago I had 
l«ft it in a pi.tre and generous frame of mind. I called to 
mind the conversation of the evening before, the gentle elo- 
quence of Mrs. Rivers, inculcating those lessons of mild for- 
bearance and lofty self-command which had filled me with 
genenius resolve; and how was I to return 1 — my hands 
died in blood. 

" I hid mysf-lf in the thicket near her house, sometimes I 
stole near it; then, as I heard voices, I retreated farther into 
the wild part of the wood. Night came on at last, and that 
night 1 slept under a tree, but at a short distance from the 
cottage. 

" The cool morning air woke me ; and I began seriously 
to consider my situation ; destitute of friends and money, 
whither sliould I direct my steps? I was resolved never to 
return to my school. I was nearly sixteen; I was tall and 
athletic in my frame, though still a mere boy in my thoughts 
and pursuits; still, 1 told myself that, such as 1, many a 
stripling was cast upon the world, and that 1 ought to sum- 
mon courage, and to show my tyrants that I could exist 
independent of them. My determination was to enhst as a 
soldier ; I believed that 1 should so distinguish myself by my 
valour as speedily to become a great man. I saw myself 
singled out by the generals, applauded, honoured, and re- 
warded. 1 fancied my return, and how proudly I should 
present myself before Alilhea, having carved out my own 
fortune, and become all that her sweet mother entreated me 
to be — brave, generous, and true. But could I put my 
scheme in execution without seeing my young companion 
ag;iin 1 Oh, no ! my heart, my whole soul led me to her 
side, to demand her sympathy, to ask her prayers, to bid 
her never forget me ; at the same time that I dreaded seeing 
lier luot.her,, for I fe^ived her lessons of wisdom. I feltsure. 



FALKNER. 177 

1 knew not why, that she would wholly disapprove of my 
design. 

" I tore a leaf from my pocketbook, and, with the pencil, 
implored Alithea to meet me in the wood, whence I resolved 
not to stir till 1 should see her. But how was I to convey 
my paper without the knowledge of her mother? or being 
seen by the servants'? I hovered about all day; it was not 
till nightfall that I ventured near, and, knowing well the 
casement of her room, I wrapped my letter round a stone, 
and threw it in. Then I retreated speedily. 

*' It was night again ; I had not eaten for twenty-four 
hours; I knew not when Alithea could come to me, but I 
resolved not to move from the spot I liad designated till she 
came. 1 hunted for a few berries, and a turnip that had 
fallen from a cart was as the manna of the desert. For a 
short half hour it stilled the giiawings of my appetite, and 
then I lay down unable to sleep. Eying the stars through 
the leafy boughs above, thinking allernatelj' of a prisoner 
deserted by his jailer, and starved to death, while at each 
moment he fancied the far step approaching, and the key 
turning in the lock; and then, again, of feasts, of a paradise 
of fruits, of the simple, cheerful repasts at the cottage, 
which, for many a long year, I was destined never again to 
partake of- 

*' It was midnight; the air was still, not a leaf moved; 
sometimes I believed 1 dosed ; but 1 had a sense of being 
awake always present to my mind ; the hours seemed 
changed to eternity. I began suddenly to think 1 was dying; 
I thought I never should see the morrow's sun. Aliihea 
would come, but her friend would not answer to her call ; he 
would never speak to her more. At this moment I heard a 
rustling; was there some animal about? it drew near, it 
was steps ; a white figure appeared between the trunks of 
the trees; again I thought it was a dream, till the dearest 
of all voices spoke my name, the loveliest and kindest face 
in the world bent over me ; my cold, clamnty hand was 
taken in hers, so soft and warm. I started up, 1 threw my 
arms around her, I pressed her to my bosom. She had 
found my note on retiring for the night; fearful of disobey- 
ing my injunctions of secrecy, she had waited till all was at 
rest before she stole out to me; and now, with all the 
thoughtfulness that characterized her, when another's wants 
and sufferings were in question, she brought food with her, 
and a large cloak to wrap my shivering limbs. She sat 
beside me as I ate, smiling throuiih her tears; no reproach 
fell from her lips, it whs only joy to see me, and expressions 
of kind encouragement. 

"I dwell too much on these days; my tale grows long, 
and I must abridge the dear recollections of those moments 
of innocence and happiness. Alithea easilv persuaded rae 
H3 



178 FALKNER. 

to see her mother, and Mrs. Rivers received me as a mother 
would a son who has been in danger of death, and is recov- 
ering. I saw only smiles, I heard only congratulations. I 
wondered where the misery and despair which gathered so 
thickly around me had flown — no vestige remained; the sun 
shone unclouded on my soul. 

" 1 asked no questions, I remained passive ; I felt that 
soiDelhing was being done for me, but I did not inquire what. 
Each dny I spent several hours in study, so to reward the 
kindness of my indulgent friend. Each day I listened to her 
gentle converse, and wandered with Alithea over hill and 
Cale, and poured into her ear my resolutions to become great 
and good. Surely in this world there are no aspirations so 
noble, pure, and godlike as those breathed by an enthusiastic 
boy, u lie dreams of love and virtue, and who is still guarded 
by cliildlike innocence. 

" Mrs. Rivers, meanwhile, was in correspondence with my 
uncle, and, by a fortunate coincidence, a cadetship long 
sought by him was presented at tliis moment, and I was re- 
moved to thn l*]ast Indian military college. Before I went, 
my maternal friend spoke with all the fervour of affection 
of my errors, my duties, the expectation she had that I 
should show myself worthy of the hopes she entertained of 
me. I ptomised to her and to Alithea — 1 vowed to become 
all they wished ; my bosom swelled with generous ambition 
and ardent gratitude; the drama of life, methought, was un- 
rolling before me — the scene on which I was to act ap- 
peared resplendent in fairy and gorgeous colours; neither 
vanity nor pride swelled me up; but a desire to prove 
myself worthy of those adored beings who were all the 
world to me, who had saved me from myself, to restore me 
to the pure and happy shelter of their hearts. Can it be 
wondered that, from that day to the present hour, they have 
seemed to me portions of heaven incarnate upon earth? — 
that I have prized the thought of them as a rich inheritance T 
And how did I repay? Cold, wan fii^ure of the dead I re- 
})roach me not thus with your closed eyes, and the dank 
strintrs of your wet clinging hair. Give me space to breithe, 
that I may record your vindication and my crime. 

" I was placed at the military college. Had I gone there 
at once, it had been well: but"first 1 spent a month at my 
uncle's, where I was treated like a repiohate and a criminal. 
I tried to consider this but as a trial of my promises and 
good resolution to be gentle — to turn one cheek when the 
other was smitten. It is not for me to accuse others or 
defend myself; hut yet I think that I had imbibed so much 
of the celes'ial virtues of my instructress, that, had I been 
treated with any kindness, my heart must have warmed 
towards my relatives ; as it was, I left my uncle's, having 
made a vow never to sleep beneath his roof again. 



FALKNER. 179 

"I reached the military college, and here I might fairly 
begin a new career. I exerted myself to study — to obey — 
to conciliate. The applause that followed my endeavours 
gave me a little pleasure ; but when 1 wrote to Aliihea and 
her mother, and felt no weight on my conscience, no draw- 
back to my hope, that I was rendering myself worthy of 
them, then indeed n\y felicity was wittiout alloy; and when 
my fiery temper kindled, when injustice and meanness cnnsed 
my blood to boil, I thought of the mild, appealing look ofr.lrs. 
Rivers, and the dearer smiles of her daughter, and I sup- 
pressed every outward sign of anger and scorn. 

"For two whole years I did not see these dear, dear 
friends, while I lived npon the thouglit of them — alas! when 
have I ceased to do that] — I wrote constnutly and received 
letters. Those dictated by Mrs. Rivers, traced by h-^r sweet 
daughter's hand, were full of all that generous benevolence, 
and enlightened sensibility which rendered her the very be- 
ing to instruct and rule me ; while the playful phrases of 
Alithea — her mention of the spots we had visited together, 
and history of all the slight events of her innocent life, 
breathed so truly of the abode of peace from which they 
emanated, that they carried the charm of a soft repose even 
to my restless spirit. A year passed, and then tidings of 
misery came. Mrs. Rivers was dying. Alithea wrote in 
despair — she was alone — her father distant. She implored 
my assistance — my presence. I did not hesitate. Her 
appeal came during the period that preceded an examination; 
I believed that it would be useless to ask leave to absent my- 
self, and I resolved at once to go without permission. I wrote 
a letter to the master, mentioning that the sickness of a 
friend forced me to this step ; and then, almost moneyless 
and on foot, 1 set out to cross the country. 1 do not record 
trivialties — 1 will not mention the physical sufferings of that 
journey, they were so much less than tiie agony of sus- 
pense I suffered, the fear that I should not find my maternal 
friend alive. Life burnt low indeed — when I, at last, step- 
ped within the threshold of her sick chamber ; yet she smiled 
when she saw me, and tried to hold out her hand — one 
already clasped that of Alithea. For hours we thus watch- 
ed her, exchanging looks, not speech. Alithea, naturally 
impetuous, and even vehement, now controlled all sign of 
grief, except the expression of wo, that took ail colour 
from her face, and clouded her brow with anguish. She 
knelt beside her mother — her lips glued to her hand, as if to 
the last to feel her pulse of life, and assure herself that she 
still existed. The room was darkened; a broken ray tinged 
the head of the mourner, while her mother lay in shadow — 
a shadow that seemed to deepen as the hue of death crept 
over her face ; now and then she opened her eyes — now and 
then murmured inarticulately, and then she seemed to sleep. 



189 FALKNER. 

We neither nioA'ed — sometimes Alithea raised her head and 
looked on her mother's countenance, and then, seeing the 
change already operated, it drooped over the wan hand she 
held. Suddenly tliere was a slight sound — a slight convul- 
sion in the fingers. I saw a shade darken over the face — 
something seemed to pass over, and then away — and all was 
marble still — and the lips, wreathed into a smile, became 
fixed and breathless. Alithea started up, uttered a shriek, 
and threw herself on her mother's body — such name 1 give 
— the blameless soul was gone for ever. 

"It was my task to console the miserable daughter; and 
such was the angelic softness of Alithea's disposition, that 
when the first burst of grief was over, she yielded to be con- " 
soled. There was no hardness in her regrets. She collected 
every relic, surrounded herself with every object that might 
keep alive the memory of her parent. She talked of her 
continually ; and together we spoke of her virtues, her wis- 
dom, her ardent affection, and felt a thrilling, trembling 
pleasure in recalling every act and word that most displayed 
her excellence. As we were thus employed, 1 could con- 
template and remark the change the interval of my absence 
had operated in the beautiful girl — she had sprung into wo- 
manhood ; her figure was surrounded by a thousand graces ; 
a tender charm was diffused over each lineament and mo- 
tion that intoxicated me with delight. Before 1 loved — now 
I revered her; her mother's angelic essence seemed united 
to hers, forming two in one. The sentiments these beings 
had divided were now concentrated in her ; and added to 
this, a breathless adoration, a heart's devotion, which still 
even now dwells beside her grave, and hallows every mem- 
or)'^ that remains. 

" The cold tomb held the gentle form of Mrs. Rivers : 
each day we visited it, and each day we collected fresh me- 
morials, and exhausted ourselves in talk concerning the lost 
one. Immediately on my arrival I had written to my uncle, 
and the cause of my rash act pleading my excuse, it was 
visited less severely than I expected ; I was told that it was 
well that I displayed affection and gratitude towards a too 
indulgent friend, though my depravity betrayed itself in the 
manner even in which I fulfilled a duly. 1 was bid at once 
return to the college — after a fortnight had passed I obeyed; 
and now 1 lived on Alithea's letters, which breathed only 
her eloquent regrets — already my own dream of life was 
formed to be for ever her protector, her friend, her servant, 
her all that she could deign to make me ; to devote myself 
day after day, year after yenr, through all my life to her only. 
While with her, oppressed by grief as we both were, I did 
not understand my own sensations, and the burning of my 
heart, which opened as a volcano when I heard her only 
speak my name, or felt the touch of her soft hand. But, 



FALKNER. 181 

returned to college, a veil fell from my eyes. I knew that 
I loved her, I hailed the discovery with transport ; I hugged 
to my bosom the idea that she was the first and last being 
to awaken the tumultuous sensations that took away my 
breath, dimmed my eyes, and dissolved me into tenderness. 

Soon after her mother's death she was placed as a parlour 
boarder at a school. I saw her once there, but I did not see 
her alone. I could not speak — 1 could only gaze on her un- 
exampled loveliness ; nor, strange to say, did I wish to dis- 
close the passion that agitated me : she was so young, so 
confiding, so innocent, 1 wished to be but as a brother to her, 
for I had a sort of restless presentiment that distance and 
reserve would ensue on my disclosing my other feeling. In 
fact, I was a mere boy; I knew myself to be a friendless 
one. and I desired time and consideration, and the fortunate 
moment to occur, before I exchanged our present guileless, 
but warm and tender attachment, for the hopes and throes 
of a passion which demands a future, and is therefore full 
of peril. True, when I left her I reproached myself for 
my cowardice ; but 1 would not write, and deferred, till I 
saw her, all explanation of my feelings. 

" Some months after, the time arrived when I was to em- 
bark for India. Captain Rivers had returned, and inhabited 
the beloved cottage, and Alithea dwelt with him. I went to 
see her previous to my departure. My soul was in tumults : 
I desired to take her with me, but that was impossible ; and 
yet to leave her thus, and go into a far and long exile away 
from her, was too frightful. I could not believe that I could 
exist without the near hope and expectation of seeing her — 
without that constant mingling of hearts which made her 
life-blood but as a portion of my own. My resolution was 
easily made to claim her as mine, my betrothed, my future 
bride; and I had a vague notion that, if I were accepted. 
Captain Rivers would form some plan to prevent my going 
to India, or to bring me back speedily. I arrived at the cot- 
tage, and the first sight of her father was painful to me. 
He was rough and uncouth ; and though proud of his daugh- 
ter, yet treated her with little of that deference to which she 
had a right even from him — the more reason, I thought, to 
make her mine ; and that very evening I expressed my 
desire to Captain Rivers : a horselaugh was the reply ; he 
treated me partly as a mad boy, partly as an impertinent 
beggar. My passions were roused, my indignation burst all 
the fetters I sought to throw over it; I answered haughtily 
— insolently — our words were loud and rude ; I laughed at 
his menaces and scoffed at his authority. I retorted scorn 
with scorn, till the fiery old sailor was provoked to knock 
me down. In all this I thought not of him in the sacred 
character of Alithea's father — I knew but one parent for her; 
she had, as it were, joined us by making us companions and 
16 



182 FALKNER. 

friends — both children of her heart ; she was gone,, and the' 
Tude tyrant who usurped her place excited only detestation 
and loaihing, from the insolence of his pretensions. Still, 
when he struck me, his age and his infirmities — for he was 
lame — prevented my returning the blow. I rose, and folding 
my arms, and looking at him with a smile of ineffable con- 
tempt, I said, ' Poor, miserable man ! do you think to degrade 
me by a blow? but for pity, I could return it so that you 
would never lift up your head again from that floor — I spare 
you — farewell. You have taught me one lesson — I will die 
rather than leave Alithea in the hands of a ruffian, such as 
you.' With these words I turned on my heel, and walked 
out of the house. 

" I repaired to a neighbouring public house, and wrote to 
Alithea, asking, demanding an interview ; I claimed it in her 
mother's name. Her answer came, it was wetted with her 
tears — dear gentle being ! — so alien was her nature from all 
strife, that the very idea of contention shook her dehcate 
frame, and seemed almost to unhinge her reason. She 
respected her father, and she loved me with an affection- 
nourished by long companionship and sacred associations. 
She promised to meet me if I would abstain from again see- 
ing her father. 

" In the same wood, and at the same midnight hour as. 
when before she came to bring assistance and consolation 
to the outcast boy three years before, I saw her again, and 
for the last time, before I left England. Alithea had oae 
fault, if such name may be given to a delicacy of structure that 
rendered every clash of human passion terrifying. In phys- 
ical danger she could show herself a heroine ; but awaken 
her terror of moral evil, and she was hurried away beyond 
all self-command by spasms of fear. Thus, as she came 
now clandestinely, under the cover of night, her father's de- 
nunciations still sounding in her ears — the friend of her youth 
banished — going away for ever ; and that departure dis- 
turbed by strife, her reason almost forsook her — she was 
bewildered — clinging to me with tears — yet fearful at every 
minute of discovery. It was a parting of anguish. She did 
not feel the passion that ruled my bosom. Hers was a gen- 
tler, sisterly feeling ; yet not the less intwined with the prin- 
ciples of her being, and necessary to her existence. She 
lavished caresses and words of endearment on me : she could 
not tear herself away ; yet she rejected firmly every idea of 
disobedience to her father ; and the burning expressions of 
my love found no echo in her bosom. 

" Thus we parted ; and a few days afterward I was on 
the wide sea, sailing for my distant bourn. At first I had 
felt disappointed and angry ; but soon imagination shed 
radiance over what had seemed chilly and dim. I felt her 
dear head repose on my heart ; I saw her bright eyes over- 



PALKNER. 183 

brimming with tears ; and heard her sweet voice repeat 
again and again her vow never to forget lier brother, her 
more than brother, her only friend ; the only being left her 
to love. No wonder tluU, during the various changes of a 
long voyage — during reveries indulged endlessly througli 
<calni nights, and the mightier emotions awakened by storm 
and danger, iliat the memory of this affection grew into a 
conviction that I was loved, and a belief that she was mine 
for ever. 

" I am not writing my life ; and, but for the wish to appear 
Jess criminal in my dear child's eyes, I had not written a 
word of the foregone pages, but leaped at once to the n^ere 
facts that justify poor Alithea, and tell the tragic story of 
her death. Years have passed, and oblivion has swept away 
all memory oT the events of which I speak. Who recollects 
the wise, white lady of the secluded cot, and her hoiui 
daughter'? This heart alone ; there they live enshrined. ]My 
dreams call up their forms. I visit them in my solitary 
reveries. I try to forget the ensuing years, and to become 
the heedless half-savage boy who listened with wonder, yet 
conviction, to lessons of virtue ; and to call back th-e melt- 
ing of the heart which the wise lady's words produced, and 
the bounding, wild joy I felt beside her child. If there is a 
hell, it need no other torment but memory to call back such 
scenes as these, and bid me remember tlie destruction that 
ensued. 

" I remained ten years in India, an officer In a regiment of 
the company's cavalry. I saw a good deal of service ; went 
•throKgh much suffering; and doing my duty on the field of 
battle, or at the hour of attack, I gained that approbation in 
the field which I lost when in quarters by a sort of system- 
atized insubordination, which was a part of my untameable 
nature. In action even I went beyond my orders — however, 
Ahat was forgiven; but when in quarters, I took p«rt with 
the weak, and showed contempt for the powerful. I was 
looked upon as dangerous ; and the more so, tliat the violence 
of my temper often made my manner in a high degree 
reprehensible. 1 attached myself to several natives ; that 
was a misdemeanor. I strove to inculcate European tastes 
and spirit, enlightened views, and liberal policy, to one or 
two native princes, whom, from some ill-luck, the English 
governors wished to keep in ignorance and darkness. I was 
for ever ent;ingled in the intimacy, and driven to try to serve 
the oppressed ; while the affection I excited was considered 
disaffection on my part to the rulers. Sometimes also I 
met with ingratitude and treachery : my actions were mis- 
represented, either by prejudice or malice ; and my situation, 
of a subordinate officer, without fortune, gave to the influence 
I acquired, through learning the language and respecting the 
iiabits and feelings of the natives, an air of something so 



184 FALKTVER. 

inexplicable, as might, in the dark ages, have been attributed 
to u'itchcraft, and in these enlightened times was considered 
a tendency to the most dangerous intrigues. Having saved 
an old rajah's life, and having taken great pains to extricate 
him from a difTii-ulty in which the Europeans had purposely 
entangled him, it became rumoured that I aspired to succeed 
to a native principality, and I was peren)ptorily ordered off 
to another station. My views were in diametrical opposi- 
tion to the then Indian government. My conversation was 
heedless — my youthful imagination exalted by native mag- 
nificence ; I own I often dreamed of the practicability of 
driving the merchant sovereigns from Hindostan. There 
■was, as is the essence of my character, much boyish folly 
joined to dangerous passion ; all of which took the guise in 
my own heart of that high heroic adventure with which I 
longed to adorn my life. A subaltern in the company's 
service, I could never gain my Alithea, or do her the honour 
with which 1 longed to crown her. The acquisition of 
power, of influence, of station, would exalt me in her father's 
eyes — so much of what was selfish mingled in my conduct 
^but I was too young and impetuous to succeed. Those in 
power watched me narrowly. The elevation of a day was 
always followed by a quick transfer to an unknown and dis- 
tant province. 

" In all my wildest schemes the thought of Alithea reign- 
ed paramount. My only object was to prove myself worthy 
of her; and my only dream for the future was to make her 
mine for ever. 

" A constancy of ten years, strung perpetually up to the 
height of passion, may appear improbable ; yet it was so. 
It was my nature to hold an object with tenacious grasp — 
to show a proud contempt of obstacles — to resolve on ulti- 
mate triumph. Besides this, the idea of Alithea was so 
kneaded up and incorporate with my being, that my living 
heart must have been searched and anatomized to its core, 
before the portion bolonging to her could have been divided 
from the rest. 1 disdained the thought of every other 
woman. It was my pride to look coldly on every charm, 
and to shut my heart against all but Alithea. During the 
first years of my residence in India, I often wrote to her, 
and pouring out my soul on paper, I conjured her to preserve 
herself for me. I told her how each solitary jungle or 
mountain ravine spoke to me of a secluded* home with her; 
how every palace and gorgeous hall seemed yet a shrine too 
humble for her. The very soul of passion breathed along 
the lines I traced — they were such as an affianced lover 
would have written, pure in their tenderness ; but heartfelt, 
penetrating, and eloquent ; they were my dearest comfort. 
After long, wearisome marches — after the dangers of an 
assault or a skirmish — after a day spent among the sick or 



FALKNER. 185 

^ying — in the midst of many disappointments and harassing 
cares — during the storms of pride and the languor of de- 
spair, it was my consolation to fly to her image and to recall 
the tender hapjiiness of reunion — to endeavour to convey to 
her how she was my hope and aim — my fountain in the 
desert — 'the shadowy tree to slielter me from the burning 
sun — the soft breeze to refresh me — the angelic visiter to 
the unfortunate martyr. Not one of these letters ever 
reached her — her father destroyed them all : on his head be 
the crime and the remorse of his daughter's death ! Fool 
and coward ! would 1 shift to other ^shoulders the heavy 
weight 1 No ! no ! crime and remorse still link me to her. 
Let them eat into my frame fiery torture ; they are better 
than forgetfulness ! 

" I had two hopes in India : one was, to raise myself to 
such a station as would render me worthy of Alithea in the 
eyes of Captain Rivers ; the other, to return to England — 
to find change there — to find love iu her heart — and to move 
her to quit all for me. By turns these two dreams reigned 
over me; I indulged in them with complacency — I returned 
to them with ardour — I nourished them with perseverance. 
I never saw a young Indian mother with her infant, but my 
soul dissolved in tender fancies of domestic union and bliss 
with Alithea. There was something in her soft dark eye, 
and in the turn of her countenance, purely eastern ; and 
many a lovely, half-veiled face I could have taken for hers ; 
many a slight, symmetrical figure, round, elegant, and deli- 
cate, seemed her own, as, with elastic, undulating motion, 
they passed on their way to temple or feast. I cultivated 
all these fancies ; they nourished my fidelity, and made the 
thought of her the absolute law of my life. 

" Ten years passed, and then news'came that altered my 
whole situation. My uncle and his only son died ; the 
family estate devolved on me. 1 was rich and free. Rich 
in my own eyes, and in the eyes of all to whom competence 
is wealth. I felt sure that, with this inheritance, Captain 
Rivers would not disdain me for his child. I gave up my 
commission immediately, and returned to England. 

^ England and Alithea ! How balmy, how ineffably sweet 
was the idea of once more beholding the rural spot where 
she resided ; of treading the woodland paths with her— of 
visiting her dear mother's grave — of renewing our old 
associations, and knitting our destinies inextricably in one. 
It was a voyage of bliss. I longed for its conclusion ; but 
feeling that a pathway was stretched across the ocean, lead- 
ing even into her very presence, I blessed each wave or 
tract of azure sea we passed over. The limitless Atlantic 
was my road to her, and became glorified as the vision ot 
the Hebrew shepherd boy ; and yet loved with the same 
homefelt sweetness 3s that with which I used to regard the 
16* ^ 



186 FALKNER. 

lime-tree walk that led to her garden-gate. I forgot the 
years that had elapsed since we met; it was with difficult^' 
that I forced my imagination to remember that 1 should not 
find her pale mother beside her to sanctify our imion. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

" On landing in England, I at once set off to the far nor- 
thern county where she resided. I arrived at the well- 
known village ; all looked the same ; I recognised the cot- 
tages and tiieir flower-gardens, and even some of the elder 
inhabitants looking, methought. no older than when 1 left 
them. My heart hailed my return home with rapture, and 
I quickened my steps towards the cottage. It was shut up 
and abandoned. This was the first check my sanguine spirit 
had met. Hitherto I had not pronounced her name or 
asked a question — I longed to return, as from a walk, and 
to find all things as I had left it. Living in a dream, I had 
not considered the chances and the storms, or even the 
mere changes, of the seasons of life. 

" My pen lags in its task — I dilate on things be^ hurried 
over, yet they serve as a screen between me and fate. A 
few inquiries revealed the truth. Captain Rivers was dead 
— his daughter married. I had lived in a fool's paradise. 
None of the obstacles existed that I expected to meet and 
conquer, but in their stead a fourfold brazen door had risen, 
locked, barred, and guarded, and I could not even shake a 
hinge, or put back a bolt. 

" I hurried from the fatal spot ; it became a hell to me. 
And oh, to think tliat I had lived in vain — vainly dreamed 
of the angel of my idolatry, vainly hoped — and most vainly 
loved ; called her mine when another held her, sold myself 
to perpetual slavery to her shadow, while her living image 
enriched the shrine of another's home ! The tempe t that 
shook my soul did not permit me to give form, or, indeed, to 
dwell consecutively on such desolating thoughts. As a 
man who arrives from a pleasant journey, and turns the 
corner where he expects to view the dwelling in which re- 
pose his wife, his children — all dear to him — and when he 
gains the desired spot, beholds it smouldering in ashes, and 
is told that all are consumed, and that their bones lie beneath 
the ruins ; thus was I — my imagination had created home, 
and bride, and fair being sprung from her side, who called 
me father, and one word defaced my whole future life and 
\vidowed me for ever. 

" Now began that chain of incidents that led to a deed I 



PALKNER. 187 

had not thought of. Incidents or accidents ; acts, done I 
know not why ; nothing in themselves ; but meeting, and 
kindled by the fiery spirit that raged in my bosom, they gave 
such direction to its ruinous powers as produced the tra- 
gedy for ever to be deplored. 

'* Bewildered and overwhelmed by the loss which to me 
had all the novelty and keenness of a disaster of yesterday, 
though I found that many years had gone by since, in re- 
ality, it was completed, I'tled from the spot I had so fondly 
sought, and hurried up to London on no fixed errand, with 
no determined idea, yet vaguely desiring to do something. 
Scarcely arrived, I met a man whom I had known in India. 
He asked me to dine with him, and I complied ; because to 
refuse would h:;ve required explanation, and the affirmative 
was more easily given. I did not mean to keep my en- 
gagement ; yet when the hour came, so intolerable had I 
become to myself — so poignant and loathsome were my 
thoughts — that I went, so to lose for a few moments the 
present sense of ill. It was a bachelor's dinner, and there 
were, in addition to myself, three or four other guests — among 
them a Mr. Neville. From the moment this man opened 
his lips to speak, I took a violent dislike to him. He was, 
and always must have been, the man whom among ten thou- 
sand I should have marked out to abhor. He was cold, 
proud, and sarcastic, withal a decayed dandy, turned cynic 
— who, half despising himself, tried wholly to disdain his 
fellow-creatures. A man whose bosom never glowed with 
a generous emotion, and who took pride in the sagacity 
which enabled him to detect worms and corruption in the 
loveliness of virtue. A poor, mean-spirited fellow, despite 
his haughty outside ; and then when he spoke of women, 
how base a thing he seemed! his disbelief in their excel- 
lence, his contemptuous pity, his insulting love, made my 
blood boil. To me there was something sacred in a wo- 
man's very shadow. Was she evil, I regarded her with the 
pious regret with which I might view a shrine desecrated 
by sacrilegious hands — the odour of sanctity still floated 
around the rifled altar ; I never could regard them as mere 
fellow-creatures — they were beings of a better species, 
sometimes gone astray in the world's wilderness, but always 
elevated above the best among us. For Alithea's sake I 
respected every woman. How much good I knew of them ! 
Generous, devoted, delicate — their very faults were but 
misdirected virtues ; and this animal dared revile beings of 
whose very nature he could form no conception. A burden 
was lifted from my soul when he left us. 

" ' It is strange,' said our host, ' that Neville should in- 
dulge in this kind of talk ; he is married to the most beau- 
tiful, and the best woman in the world. Much younger 
than himself, she yet performs her duties as a wife with 



288 PALKNER. 

Steadiness and cheerfulness ; lovely beyond her sex, she is 
without its weakness; to please some jealous freak of his, 
she has withdrawn herself from the world, and buried her- 
self alive at his seat in the North. How she can endure an 
eternal tete-a-tete with that empty, conceited, and arrogant 
husband of hers is beyond any guessing.' 

" I made some observation expressive of my abhorrence 
of Mr. Neville's character, and my friend continued — ' Dis- 
agreeable and shallow as he is, one would have thought that 
the society of so superior, so perfect a woman, would 
reconcile him to her sex, but I verily believe he is jealous 
of her surpassing excellence ; and that it is not so much a nat- 
ural, and I might almost call it generous, fear of losing her 
affections, as a dislike of seeing her admired, and knowing 
that she is preferred to him, especially now that he abso- 
lutely looks an old fellow. Poor Alithea Rivers — hers is a 
hard fate !' 

" 1 had a glass of wine in my hand ; my convulsive grasp 
shivered the brittle thing, but I gave no other outward sign ; 
before, I was miserable, I had lost all that made life dear ; but 
to know that she was lost to herself, bound for liie to a hu- 
man brute, curdled my heart's blood, and spread an unnat- 
ural chilliness through my frame. 

" What a sacrifice was there ; a sacrifice of how much 
more than life, of the heart's sweetest feelings, when a spirit, 
sent to gladden the world, and cast one drop of celestial nec- 
tar into the bitterness of existence, was made garbage for 
that detested animal ; from that moment, from the moment 
I felt assured that 1 had seen Alithea's husband, something 
departed from the world, such as I had once known it, 
never to return again. A sense of acquiescence in the de- 
crees of Providence, of confidence in the benevolence and 
beauty of the universe, of pride, despite all my misfortunes, 
in being man, of pleasure in the loveliness of nature, all de- 
parted ! I had lost her — that was nothing ; it was my dis- 
aster, but did not injure the order and grace of the creation; 
she was, I fondly trusted, married to a better man than I ; 
but, bound to that grovelling and loathsome type of the 
world's worst quahties, the devil usurped at once the throne 
of God, and life became a hell. 

"' You are miserable, Alithea! you must be miserable! 
For you there is no sympathy, no mingling of hearts, no 
generous confidence in anotlier's esteem and kindness, no 
indulgence in golden imaginations of the beauty of life. You 
are tied to a foul, corrupting corpse. You are cut off from 
the dear associations of the social hearth, from the dignified 
sense of having exchanged virgin purity for a sweeter and 
more valuable possession in another's heart ; coldly and 
listlessly you look on the day which brings no hope to you, 
if, indeed, you do not rave and blaspheme in your despair. 



FALKNER. 189 

Oh ! with me, the brother of your soul, your servant, lover, 
untiring friend, how differently had your lot been cast !' 

" I rushed from my friend's house; I entered no roof that 
night ; my passions were awake, my fierce volcanic pas- 
sions ! Had I encountered Neville, I had assuredly mur- 
dered him; my soul was chaos, yet a tempestuous ray gave 
a dark light amid the storm ; a glimmering, yet permanent 
irradiation mantled over the ruins among which I stood. I 
said to myself, 'I am mad, driven to desperation;' but, be- 
neath this outward garb of my thought, I knew and recognised 
an interior form. I knew what I desired, what I intended, 
and what, though I tried to cheat myself into the belief that 
I wavered, I henceforth steadily pursued. There is, per- 
haps, no more dangerous mood of mind than when we dog- 
gedly pursue means, recklessly uncertain of their end. 

" Thus was I led to the fatal hour ; a life of love, and a 
sudden bereavement, with such a thing the instrument of my 
ruin ! A contempt for the order of the universe, a stern, 
demoniacal braving of fate, because I would rule, and put 
that right which God had let go wrong. Oh, let me not 
again blaspheme. God made the stars, and the green earth, 
within whose bosom Alithealies. She also is his, and I will 
believe, despite the hellish interference that tainted and de- 
flowered her earthly life, that now she is with the source of 
all good, reaping the rewai-d of her virtues, the compensation 
for her suffering. Else, why are we created] To crawl 
forth, to suffer and die ? I cannot believe it. Spirit of the 
blessed, Omnipotence did not form perfection to shatter and 
dissipate the elements like broken glass ! But I rave and 
wander; Ahthea still lives and suffers at the time of which 
I write, and 1 erecting myself into a providence, resolved to 
put that right which was wrong, and cure the world's mis- 
rule. From that moment I never paused to look back ; I 
set my soul upon the cast, and I am here. And Alithea ! 
her mysterious grave you shall now approach. 

" Bent upon a dangerous purpose, fate led before me an 
mstrument, without which I should have found it difficult to 
execute my plan. I got a letter from a man in great dis- 
tress, asking for some small help ; he was on the point of 
quitting England for America, and working his passage ; 
slight assistance would be of inestimable benefit in further- 
ing his plans. The petitioner followed his petition quickly, 
and was ushered in before me. I scrutinized his shrewd 
yet down-looking countenance ; I scanned his supple yet 
uncertain carriage ; I felt that he was a coward, yet knew 
he would tamper with roguery, in all safetj", for a due 
reward. I had known the fellow in India; James Osborne 
was his name ; he dabbled in various disreputable money 
transactions, both with natives and Englishmen, and at last, 
having excited the suspicion of government, got thrown into 



190 FALKNER. 

prison. He had then written to me, who was considered A 
sort of refuge for the destitute, and I went to see him. 
There was no great harm in the man ; on the contrary, he 
Avas soft-hearted and humane ; the infection of dishonesty, 
caught in bad company, and fostered in poverty, was his 
ruin ; and he joined to this a strong desire to be respecta- 
ble, if he could only contrive to subsist without double-deal- 
ing. I thought, that by extricating him from his embar- 
rassments, and removing him from temptation, I might save 
him from ignominy ; so I paid his passage to England ; 
where he told me that he had friends and resources. But 
his old habits pursued him, and even now, though poverty 
was the alleged motive for his emigration, I saw that there 
was secret fear of legal pursuit for dishonest practices ; he 
had been inveigled, he said, to lend his name to a transac- 
tion which turned out a knavish one. With all this, Osborne 
was not a villain, and scarcely a rogue ; there was truth in 
what he said ; he had always an aspiration for a better place 
in society, but he saw no way of attaining it except by mon- 
ey, and no way of gaining money except by cheating. 

" I listened to his story. ' You are an incorrigible fel- 
low,' said I. ' How can I give ear to your promises T Still 
I am willing to assist you. I am myself going to America ; 
you shall accompany me.' By degrees I afterward ex- 
plained the service I needed ; yet I only half disclosed the 
truth. Osborne never knew the name or position of the 
lady who was to be my companion across the Atlantic. A 
man's notions of the conduct of others are always coloured 
by his own ruling passion. Osborne thought I was intent 
on carrying off an heiress. 

" With this ally I proceeded to Cumberland — my mind 
more intent on the result of my schemes than their inter- 
mediate detail. I learned before I went that Mr. Neville 
was still in town. This was a golden opportunity, and I 
hastened to use it. I reached the spot that Alithea inhab- 
ited — I entered the outer gate of the demesne — I rode up to 
the avenue that led to the house — I was ushered into the 
room where I knew that I should find her. I summoned 
every power to calm the throbbing of my heart. I ex- 
pected to find her changed ; but when I saw her, I discov- 
ered no alteration. It was strange that so much of girlish 
appearance should remain. Her figure was light and airy ; 
her rich clustering ringlets abundant as before ; her face — 
it was Alithea! All herself! That soft, loving eye — that 
clear brow — those music-breathing lips — time had not 
harmed her — it was herself. 

" She did not at once recognise me ; the beardless strip- 
ling was become a weather-beaten, thought-worn man ; but 
when I told her who I was — ^the name so long forgotten — 
never heard since last she spoke it, ' Rupert !' burst from 



FALKNER. ISil 

her lips — it united our severed lives ; and her look of rap- 
ture, her accent all breathless with joy, told me that her 
heart was still the same — ardent, affectionate, and true. 

" We sat together, hand liniied in hand, looking at each 
other with undisguised delight. At first, with satanic cun- 
ning, I assumed the brother's part. I questioned her con- 
cerning her fate — her feelings ; and seeing that she was 
averse to confess the truth of her disappointed, joyless 
married state, I led her back to passed days. I spoke of 
her dear mother. I said that often had the image of that 
pale, wise spirit checked, guided, and whispered sage les- 
sons to me in my banishment. I recalled a thousand scenes 
of our childhood, when we wandered together — hand in 
hand — heart linked to heart — confiding every pain — avow- 
ing every wild or rebeUious thought, or discussing the 
mighty secrets of nature and of fate, which to our young 
hearts were full of awe and mystery, and yet of beauty and 
joy. As I spoke, I examined her more narrowly. At first 
she had appeared to me the same ; now I marked a differ- 
ence. Her mouth, the home of smiles, had ever its sweet, 
benignant expression ; but her eyes, there was a heaviness 
in the lids, a liquid melancholy in their gaze, which said that 
they were acquainted with tears ; her cheeks, once round, 
peachhke, and downy, were not fallen, yet they had lost 
their rich fulness. She was more beautiful ; there was more 
reflection, more sentiment in her face ; but there was far, 
far less happiness. Before, smiles sprung up wherever slie 
turned to gaze ; now, an interest akin to pity and tears made 
the spectator's heart ache as he watched the turns of a 
countenance which was the faithful mirror of the truest 
heart that ever beat. Worse than this, there ever and anon 
shot across her faceTl look that seemed like fear. Oh, how 
unlike the trusting, dreadless Alithea ! 

" My talk of other days at first soothed, then excited, and 
threw her off her guard. By degrees I approached the ob- 
ject of all my talk, and drew her to speak of her father, 
and the motives that induced her marriage. My knowledge 
and vivid recollections of all that belonged to her made her 
unawares speak, as she liad not done since we parted, the 
undisguised truth ; and before she knew what she had said, 
I had led her to confess that she had never loved her hus- 
band ; that she found no sympathy, and little kindness in 
him ; that her life had been one of endurance of faults ahen 
to her owu temperament. Had I been more cautious, I had 
allowed this to pass oflF at first, and won her entire confi- 
dence before I laid bare my own thoughts ; for all she said 
had never before been breathed into anj' living ear but mine. 
It was her principle to submit, and to liide her sense of her 
husband's defective disposition ; and had I not, with a ser- 
pent's subtlety, glided on imperceptibly ; had I not brought 



19^ FALKNEB. 

forward her mother's name, and the memory of childhood's 
cloudless years, she had been mule with me. But now I 
could contain myself no longer. I told her that I had seen 
the miserable being to whom she was linked. I uttered 
curses on the fate that had joined them together. She laid 
her hand on my arm, and looking in my face with confiding 
innocence, ' Hush, Rupert,' she said, ' you make me mean 
more than I would willingly have you think. He is not un- 
kind ; I have no right to complain ; it is not in every man 
that we can find a brother's or a friend's heart. Neville 
does not understand these things ; but he is my husband; as 
such I honour him.' 

" I saw the internal feeling that led her to speak thus ; I 
saw the delicate forbearance that filled her noble mind. She 
thought of her virgin faith plighted — long years spent at his 
side — her children — her fidelity, which, if it had ceased to 
cling to him, had never wandered, even in thought, to an- 
other ; duties exemplarily fulfilled— earnest strivings to for- 
get his worthlessness. All this honour for her own pure 
nature, she cheated herself into believing was honour paid 
to him. I resolved to tear the veil Avhich her gentleness 
and sense of right had drawn before the truth, and I ex- 
claimed, impetuously, ' Wrong yourself not so much, dear 
girl ! do not fancy that your high soul can really bow down 
to baseness. You pay reverence to your own sense of 
duty ; but you hate — you must hate that man.' 

" She started, and her face and neck became died in 
blushes, proceeding half from anger at being urged beyond 
her wish, half from native modesty at hearing her husband 
thus spoken of. As for myself, I grew mad as I looked on 
her, and felt the sweet, transporting influences that, gathered 
round ; here indeed was the creature whom I had loved 
through so many years, who was mine in my dreams, whose 
faith and true affection I fancied I held for ever; and she 
was torn from me, given away, not to one who, like me, 
knew and felt her matchless excellence, but to a base- 
minded thing, from whom she must shrink as from an ani- 
mal of another species. All that her soul contained of ele- 
vated thoughts and celestial aspirations, all of generous, 
high, and heroic that warmed her heart, what were they 
before a blind, creeping worm, who held a matchless jewel 
in his hand, and deemed it dross 1 He even could not un- 
derstand, or share the more sober affections — mutual trust 
and mutual forbearance ; the utterance of love, the cares- 
ses of tenderness, what were these to a wretch who saw 
baseness and deceit in the most lofty and pure feelings of a 
woman's heart 1 

" I expressed these thoughts, or rather, they burst from 
me. She interrupted me. ' I do not deny,' she said, ' for I 
kiiow not how you have cheated me of my secret, but that 



FALKNER. 193 

repinings have at times entered my mind ; and I have shed 
foolish tears, to think that the dreams of my girlhood were 
as a bright moniing, quickly followed by a diin, cloudy day. 
But I have reproved myself for this discontent, and you do 
very wrong to revive it ; the heart will rebel, but rehgion, 
and philosophy, and the very tears I shed, sooth its ruffled 
mood, and make me remember that we do not live to be 
happy, but to perform our duties ; to fulfil mine is the aim 
of my life ; teach me how to do that more completely, 
more entirely to resign myself, and you will be my bene- 
factor. It is true that my husband does not understand the 
childish overflowings of my heart, which is too ready to 
seek its joys among the clouds ; he does not dwell with 
rapture on the thoughts and sentiments which give me so 
much life and happiness — he is a stronger and sterner na- 
ture ; a slower one also, I acknowledge, one less ready to 
sympathize and feel. But if I have in my intercourse with 
him regretted that lively, cheering interchange of senti- 
ment which I enjoyed with you, you are now here to be- 
stow it, and my life, hitherto defective, your return may 
render complete.' 

" I laughed bitterly. ' Poor innocent bird,' I cried ; ' think 
you at once to be free, and in a cage ? at once to feel the 
fowler's grasp, and fly away to heaven ? Ahthea, you mis- 
erably deceive yourself; hitherto you have but half guessed 
the secrets of a base grovelling spirit — have you never seen 
your husband jealous V 

" She shuddered — and I saw a spasm of exquisite pain 
cloud her features as she averted her head from me, and 
the look of trembling fear I had before remarked crept over 
her. I was shocked to see so much of the slave had en- 
tered her soul. I told her this ; I told her she was being 
degraded by the very duties which she was devoting herself, 
body and soul, to perform ; I told her that she must be free; 
she looked wonderingly, but I continued. ' Is not the very 
name of liberty dear and exhilarating 1 does it not draw you 
irresistibly onward ? is not the very thought of casting your 
heavy chains from off you full of new and inexpressible 
joy 1 Poor prisoner, do you not yearn to breathe without 
a fear] would you not with transport escape from your 
jailer to a home of love and freedom V 

" Hitherto she had fancied that I but regretted her sor- 
rows as she did, and repined as she did over a fate whose 
real miserj'^ slie alone could entirely feel ; she repented 
having spoken so openly — yet she loved me for my un- 
feigned sympathy ; but now she saw that something more 
was meant ; she" looked earnestly at me, as if to read ray 
heart; she saw its wishes in my eyes, and shrunk from 
them as from a snake, as she exclaimed, ' Never, dear Ru- 
17 I 



194 FALKNER. 

pert, speak thus to me again, or we must again part — I have 
a son.' 

" The radiance of angelic love lighted up her face as she 
uttered these words ; and then, my error and weakness 
being her strength, she resumed the self-possession she had 
lost during our previous conversation; with bewitching 
grace she held out her hand to me, and in a voice modula- 
ted by the soul of persuasion, said, ' Let us be friends, Ru- 
pert, such as we once were, brother and sister ; I will not 
bt Hevc that you are returned only to pain and injure me — I 
am happy in my children — stay but a little, and you will see 
how foolish I have been to complain at all. You also will 
love my boy.' 

" Would you not think that these words had sufficed to 
cure my madness and banish every guilty project] Had 
you seen her, her inimitable grace of attitude, the blushing, 
tender expression of her face, and her modest, earnest man- 
ner, a manner which spoke the maternal nature, such as 
Catholics imagine it, without a tincture of the wife, a 
girlish, yet enthusiastic rapture at the very thought of her 
child, you would have known that every scheme I medita- 
ted was riveted faster, every desire to make her my own 
for ever more fixed and eager. I went on to urge her, till 
I saw every feature give token of distress ; and at last she 
suddenly left me, as if unable any longer to bear my perti- 
nacity. She left me without a word, but I saw her face 
bathed in tears. I was indeed insane. These tears, which 
sprung from anguish of soul to think that her childhood's 
companion should thus show himself an injurer instead of 
a friend, I interpreted into signs of relenting — into a strug- 
gle with her heart. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

" I CALLED again the following morning, but she was de- 
nied to me ; twice this happened. She ftSared me, I be- 
lieved ; and still more franticly I was driven to continue 
my persecutions. I wrote to her ; she did not answer my 
letters. I entered the grounds of her house clandestinely ; "l 
lay in wait for her ; I resolved to see her again. At length 
one afternoon I found her alone, walking and musing in the 
more solitary part of the park ; I stood suddenly before her, 
and her first emotion was pleasure, so true Avas she to her 
affections, so constant to her hope that at last I should be 
persuaded not to pain her by a renewal of my former con- 
versation. But I believed that I had a hold on her that I would 
not forego. When she offered to renew our childhood's 



FALKNER. 195 

compact of friendship, I asked her how that could be if she 
refused me her confidence ; I asked hov/ she could promise 
me happiness, whose every hope was bliglited. I told her 
that it was my firm conviction that her mother had intended 
us for one another, that she had brouglit her up for me, 
given her to me, and that thus she was indeed mine. Her 
eyes flashed fire at this. ' j\Iy mother,' she said, ' brought 
me up for a higher purpose than even conducing to your 
happiness. She brought me up to fulfil my duties, to be a 
mother in my turn. 1 do not deny,' she continued, ' that I 
share in some sort my motlier's fate, and am more mater- 
nal tlian wife-like ; and as I fondly wish to resemble her in 
all her virtues, I will not repine at the circumstances that 
lead me rather to devote my existence to my cliildren, than 
to be that most blessed creature, a happy wife — I do not 
ask for that happiness ; I am contented with my lot ; my 
vei-y girlish, romantic repinings do not really make me un- 
happy.' 

" ' Nor your fears, nor his base jealousy, his selfishness, 
his narrow soul, and brutish violence? I know more than 
you think, Alithea — I read your heart — you must be miser- 
able ; submissive, yet tyrannized over; wedded to your 
duty, yet watched, suspected, accused. There are traces 
of tears on your cheeks, my poor girl ; your neck is bowed 
by the yoke, your eyes have no longer the radiance of con- 
scious rectitude, and yet you are innocent.' 

" ' God knows I am,' she replied, as a sliower of tears fell 
from her eyes — but she was ashamed, and brushed them 
away — ' I am, and will be, Rupert, though you would mis- 
lead me. Where, indeed, can I find a consciousness of rec- 
titude, except in my heart ? My husband mistrusts me, I 
acknowledge it — by torture j'ou force the truth — he does 
not understand, and you would pervert me ; in God and my 
own heart I put my trust, and 1 will never do that which my 
conscience tells me is wrong — and despite both I shall be 
happy. A mother is, in my eyes, a more sacred name than 
wife. My life is wrapped in my boy; in him I find blame- 
less joy, though all the rest pierce my heart with with poi- 
soned arrows.' 

" ' You shall, sweet Alithea,' I cried, ' preserve him, and 
every other blessing. You were not born to inherit this 
maimed, poverty-stricken life, the widowed mother of an 
orphan child — such are you now ; I will be a father to him 
for your sake, and many other joys will be yours, and the 
fondest, truest heart that ever warmed man's bosom shall 
be all your own. Alithea, you must not offer yourself up 
a living sacrifice to that base idol, but belong to one whose 
love, and honour, and eternal devotion merit you, though he 
possess no other claim. Let me save you from him, I ask 
no more.' 

12 



196 FALKNER. 

" I felt a tear, for many long years forgotten, steal down 
my cheek — my heart worshipped her excellence, and pity 
and grief mingled with my deep regrets ; she saw how sin- 
cerely I was moved, and tried to comfort me. She wept 
also, for, despite her steadier thoughts, she knew the cru- 
elty of her destiny, and I do believe her heart yearned to 
taste, once more before she died, the full joy of complete 
sympathy. But, if indeed her tears were partly shed for 
herself, yet she never wavered ; she deplored my unhappi- 
ness, but she reproved my perversion of principle ; she tried 
to awaken patience, piety, or philosophic fortitude — any of 
the noble virtues that might enable me to combat the pas- 
sion by which I was enslaved. 

" Time was forgotten as we thus talked with the same 
openness of heart as in former days, yet those hearts how 
saddened and wounded since then ! I would not let her 
go : while the moon rose high, shedding its silvery light 
over the forest trees, and casting dark shadows on our path, 
still we indulged in what she deemed our last conference. 
As I must answer my crimes before God, I swear I could 
discern no wavering thought, no one idea that strayed to 
the forbidden ground, towards which I strove to lead her. 
She told me that she had intended not to see me again till 
her husband returned ; she said that she must implore me 
not again to seek her in this way, or I should make her a 
prisoner in her house. I listened — I answered, I knew not 
what — I was more resolved than ever not to lose he^ — de- 
spite all, I still was mad enough to hope. She left me at 
last, hoping to have conquered, yet resolved not to see me 
again, she said, till her husband returned. This determina- 
tion on her part was in absolute contradiction to what I re- 
solved should be. I had decreed to see her again ; nay, 
more, I would see her, not witliin the precincts of her 
home, where all spoke against me ; but where she should 
be free, where, seeing nothing to remind her of the heavy 
yoke to which she bent her neck, I fondly dreamed I might 
induce her wholly to throw it aside. If it so pleased her, I 
would detain her but a few short hours, and restore her to 
her home in all liberty ; but, could I induce her to assert 
her freedom, and follow me voluntarily — then — to think 
that possible, the earth reeled under me, and my passion 
gained strength from its very folly. 

" I prepared all things for my plan ; I went to Liverpool, 
and bought two fleet horses and a light foreign caleche 
suited to my purpose. Returning northward towards Dro- 
more, I sought a sohtary spot, for the scene of our last in- 
terview, or of the first hour of my lasting bliss. What 
more solitary than the wild and drear seashore of the south 
of Cumberland ] Landward it is screened by a sublime 
back-ground of mountains ; but in itself presenting to the 



FALKNER. 197 

view a wide extent of uninhabited sands, intersected by 
rivers which, when the tide is up, present a dreary expanse 
of shallow water, and at ebb are left, except in the chan- 
nels of the rivers, a barren extent of mud and marsh; the 
surrounding waste being variegated only by a line of sand- 
hills thrown up to the height of thirty or forty feet, shutting 
in tiie view from shore, while seaward no boat appeared 
ever to spread its sail on that lonely sea. On these sands, 
near the mouth of one of the rivers, there was a small hut 
deserted, but not in ruins ; it was probably occasionally in- 
habited by guides who are used in this part of the country 
to show the track of the fords when the tide is full, and any 
deviation from the right path is attended by peril, the beds 
of the rivers being full of ruts and deep holes ; that hut I 
selected as the spot where all should be determined. If 
she consented to accompany me, we would proceed rapidly 
forward to Liverpool, and embark for America ; if she re- 
solved to return, this spot was but five miles from her 
home, and I could easily lead her back without suspicion 
being excited. I was anxious to put my scheme in execu- 
tion, as her husband was sliortly expected. 

" It seemed a feasible one. In my own heart I did not 
expect to induce her to forsako- her home ; but I might; 
and the very doubt maddened me. And if I did not, yet 
for a few hours to have her near me, not in any spot that 
called her detested husband master, but in the wide, free 
scenes of nature, the ocean, parent of all liberty, spread 
at our feet; the way easy to escape, no eye, no ear, to 
watch and spy out the uncontrolled and genuine emotions 
of her heart, or no hand to check our progress if she con- 
sented to follow. In this plan Osborne, whom I had left at 
the miserable town of Ravenglass — and who, indeed, had 
been the man to find and point out to me the solitary hut, 
was necessary. My explanation and directions to him were 
few and peremptory : he was to appear with the caleche, 
he acting as postillion, at a certain spot ; the moment he 
saw me arrive, as soon as I had placed the lady who was 
to be my companion in the carriage, he was to put spurs to 
his horses, and not by any cry of hers, nor command of 
mine, nor interference of strangers, to be induced to stop 
till he reached the hut : there she should be free ; till then 
I would have her a prisoner even beyond my ow^n control, 
lest her entreaties should cheat me out of my resolves. 
Osborne looked frightened at some portion of these orders, 
but I glossed over any inconsistency ; my bribe was high, 
and he submitted. 

" At every step I took in this mad and gtiilty scheme, I 

became more resolved to carry it on. Here is my crime — 

here the tale of sin, I have to relate. The rest is disaster 

and endless remorse. What moved me to this height of in- 

17* 



198 FALKNER. 

sanity — what blinded me to the senseless as well as the un- 
pardonable nature of my design, I cannot tell ; except that, 
for years, I had lived in a dream, and waking in the real 
world, 1 refused to accommodate myself to its necessities, 
but resolved to bend its laws to my desires. I loved Ali- 
thea — I had loved her through years of absence ; she was 
the wife of my reveries, my hopes, my heart. I could no 
more part with the thought of her as such, than with a con- 
sciousness of my own identity. To see her married and a 
mother, might be supposed capable of dissipating these 
fancies ; far from it. Her presence, her beauty, the witch- 
ery of her eye, her heart-subduing voice, her sensibility, the 
perfection of her nature, which her inimitable loveliness 
only half e.rpressed, but which reached my soul, through a 
sort of inner sense that acknowledged it with worship ; all 
this added to my phrensy, and steeped me to the very lips 
in intoxication. 

" What right had I to call this matchless creature mine ■? 
None ! That I acknowledged— but that he, the man without 
a soul, the incarnate Behal, should claim her, was not to be 
endured. Mad as I was, I aver, and He who reads all hearts 
be now my testimony, that it was more my wish to set her 
free from him than to bii^d her to myself, that urged me on. 
I had in the solitary shades of her park, during the argu- 
ments and struggles of our last interview, sworn, that if she 
would suffer me to take her, and her boy too if she chose, 
away from him, I would place her in some romantic spot, 
build a home worthy of her, surrounded with all the glory 
of nature, and only see her as a servant and a slave. I 
pledged my soul to this, and I would have kept my oath. 
Those who have not loved may look on this as the very 
acme of my hallucination ; it might be — I cannot tell — but 
so it was. 

" All was ready ; and 1 wrote to her to meet me for the 
last time. In this also I was, in one sense, sincere ; for I had 
determined, if I should fail in my persuasions, never to see 
her more. She came, but several hours later than I in- 
tended, which, to a certain degree, deranged my plans. 
The weather had a sultriness about it all day, portending 
storm, occasioning a slate of atmosphere that operates to 
render the human frame uneasy and restless. I paced the 
lane that bounded the demesnes of Dromore for hours ; I 
threw myself on a grassy bank. The rack in the upper sky 
sped along with fearful impetuosity ; it traversed the heav- 
ens from west to east, driven by a furjous wind which had 
not yet descended to us ; for below on earth, no breath of 
air moved the herbage, or could be perceived amid the top- 
most boughs of the trees. Everything in nature, acted 
upon by these contrary influences, had a strange and wild 
appearance. The sun descended red towards the ocean 



FALKNER. 199 

before Aliihea opened tlie private gate of the grounds, and 
stood in all her loveliness before me. 

" She brought her son with her. At first this annoyed me ; 
but at a second thought it seemed to render my whole design 
more conclusive. She had spoken of this child with such 
rapture that it would have been a barbarity beyond my act- 
ing to separate her from him. By making him her com- 
panion, she completed my purpose ; I would take them away 
together. I met her, I thought, with self-possession, but 
she read the conflict of passion in my face, and, half fearful, 
asked what disturbed me. I attributed my agitation to our 
approaching parting ; and drawing her hand through my 
arm, walked forward along the lane. At the moment of 
executing my project, its wickedness and cruelty became 
so apparent, that a thousand times I was about to confess 
all, solicit her forgiveness, and leave her for ever : but that 
hardness, which in the ancient religions is deemed the 
immediate work of God, crept over my heart, turning its 
human misgiving to stony resolution. I endeavoured to 
close every aperture of my soul against the relenting moods 
that assailed me ; yet they came with greater power each 
time, and at length wholly mastering me, I consented to be 
subdued. I determined to relinquish my schemes, to bid 
her an eternal adieu ; and, moved by self-pity at the desolate 
lot I was about to encounter, I spoke of separation and ab- 
sence, and the death of hope with such heartfelt pathos as 
moved her to tears. 

" Surely there is no greater enemy to virtue and good in- 
tentions than that want of self-command, the exterior of 
which, though I had acquired, no portion existed in the 
inner substance of my mind. Calm, proud, and stern 
as I seemed to others, capable of governing the vehe- 
mence of my temper, within I was the same slave of passion 
I had ever been. I never could force myself to do the 
thing I hated ; I never could persuade myself to relinquish 
the thing I desired. There is the secret of my crimes ; 
there the vice of my disposition, which produced for her I 
loved a miserable death, and for myself endless, unuttera- 
ble wo. For a moment I had become virtuous and heroic. 
We reached the end of tlie lane — my emissary appeared 
with the carriage. I had worked myself up by this time to 
determine to restore her to her home ; to part with her for 
ever. She believed this. The despair written on my brow 
— my sombre, mute, yet heart-broken mien — my thoughts 
which had totally relinquished their favourite project, and 
consented to be widowed of her for ever, expressed in brief, 
passionate sentences, proved to her, who had never sus- 
pected that I meant otherwise, that 1 took my last look and 
spoke ray last words. We reached the end of the lane ; 
Osborne drove up. 'Be not sui-prised,' I sajd. ' Yej^it is 



SOO FALKNER. 

there, Alithea ; the carriage that is to convey me far, far 
away. Gracious God, do 1 live to see this hour !' 

" The carriage stopped ; we walked up to it. A devil at 
that moment whispered in my ear, a devil, who feeds on 
human crimes and groans, prompted my arm. Coward and 
doll! to use such words — my own hellish mind was the 
sole instigator. In a moment it was done. I lifted her 
light figure into the carriage ; I jumped in after her; I bade 
her boy follow. It was too late. One cry from him, one 
long, piercing shriek from her, and we were gone. With 
the swiftness of the winds we descended the eminence 
towards the shore, and left child and all return far behind. 

" At that moment the storm burst over us ; but the thun- 
der was unheard amid the rattling of the wheels. Even her 
cries were lost in the i^iiroar ; but, as the thickening clouds 
changed twilight into niglit, the vivid lightning showed me 
Alithea at my feet, in convulsions of fear and anguish. 
There was no help. I raised her ia my arms ; and she 
struggled in them without meaning, without knowledge. 
Spasin succeeded to spasm ; I saw them, by the flashes of 
the frequent lightning, distort her features with agony, but 
I could not even hear her groans ; tlie furious haste at 
which we went, the thunder from above, the plash of the 
rain, suspended only by the bowlings of the rising wind, 
drowned every other sound. I called to Osborne to stop ; 
he gave no heed to my cries. Methought the horses had 
taken fright, and held the bit in their teeth, with such un- 
imaginable speed we swept along. The roar of ocean, torn 
up by the wild west wind, now mingled with the universal 
uproar — hell had broken loose upon earth — yet what was 
every other and more noisy tempest compared to that which 
shook my soul, as I pressed Alithea to my heart in agony, 
vainly hoping to see the colour revisit her cheeks, and her 
dear eyes open ! Was she already a corpse 1 I tried to 
feel her breath upon my cheek ; but the speed of our 
course, and tlie uproar of the elements, prevented my being 
able to ascertain whether she was alive or dead. And thus 
I bore her — thus I made her my bride, thus I, her worship- 
per, emptied the vials of pain on her beloved head ! 



CHAPTER XXX. 

" At last I became aware that the wheels of the carriage 
passed through water. Hope revived with the thought. 
The hut where Osborne was to stop was to the south of 
the river we were now crossing : the tide was ebbing, and, 



FALKNER. gOl 

despite the wind and storm, we passed the ford in safety; a 
moment more, and the carriage stopped amid tlie sands. I 
took the unfortunate lady in my arms, and carried her into 
the hut ; then, fetching the cushions of the carriage, I bade 
Osborne take the liorses on to a covered shed about half a 
mile off, which he had prepared for them, and return im- 
mediately. 

" 1 re-entered the hut — still Alithea lay motionless on 
the ground where I had placed her. The lightning showed 
m*^ her pale face ; and another flash permitted me to dis- 
cover a portion of luggage brought liere by Osborne — neces- 
sary if we fled. Among other things which, soldier-like, I 
always carried with me, I saw my canteen ; it contained 
the implements for striking a light, and tapers. By such 
means I could at last discover that my victim still lived ; 
and sometimes also slie groaned and sighed heavily. What 
had happened to her I could not tell, nor by what means 
consciousness might be restored. I chafed her head and 
hands in spirituous waters ; I made her swallow some — in 
vain. For a moment she somewhat revived, but relapsed 
again ; and the icy cold of her hands and feet seemed to 
portend instant dissolution. Osborne returned, as I had or- 
dered ; he was totally unaware of the state to which my 
devilish machinations had brought my victim. He found 
me hanging over her — calling her by every endearing name 
— chafing her hands in mine — watching in torture for such 
signs of returning sense as would assure me that I was not 
about to see her expire before my eyes. He was scared by 
what he saw ; but I silenced him, and made him light a fire, 
and heat sand, which I placed at her feet ; and then, by de- 
grees, with help of large doses of sal-volatile and other 
drugs, circulation was restored. She opened her eyes and 
gazed wildly round, and tears gushed from under the lids in 
large slow drops! My soul blessed God! Every mad de- 
sire and guilty scheme had faded before the expectation of 
her death. All I asked of Heaven was her life, and leave 
to restore her to her child and her home. Heaven granted, 
as I thought, my prayer. The livid streaks which had set- 
tled round her mouth and eyes disappeared ; her features 
lost the rigidity of convulsions, a slight colour tinged her 
cheeks ; her hands, late chill and stiflf, now had warmth and 
voluntary motions of their own. Once or twice she looked 
round and tried to speak. ' Gerard !' that word, the name 
of her boy, was murmured ; 1 caught the sound as I bent 
eagerly over her. ' He is safe — he is well,' I whispered. 
'All is well; be comforted, Alithea.' The poor victim 
smiled; yes, her own sweet smile dawned upon her face. 
She too is safe,' I thought. Once again I felt my heart 
beat freely and at ease. 

" She continued, however, in a state of torpor. There 
13 



;802 FALKNER. 

were two rooms in the hut. I prepared a sort of couch for 
her in the inner one. I placed her on it ; I covered her 
with her cloak. By degrees the sort of insensibility in 
which she sunk changed to sleep. We left her then, and 
sat watching in the outer room. I kept my eyes fixed on 
her, and saw that each hour added to the tranquillity of her 
repose ; I could not hear her breathe ; for though the thun- 
der and rain had ceased, the wind howled and the near 
ocean roared ; its billows, driven by the western gale, en- 
croached upon the sands almost to the threshold of the hut. 

" A revulsion had taken place within me ; I felt that there 
was something dearer to me than the fulfilment of my 
schemes, which was her life. She appeared almost mirac- 
ulously restored, and my softened heart thanked God and 
blessed her. I believed I could be happy even in eternal 
absence, now that the guilt of her death was taken from 
my soul. Well do I remember the kind of rapture that 
flowed in upon my heart, as at dawn of day I crept noise- 
lessly to her side, and marked the regular heaving of her 
bosom ; and saw her eyelids, heavj'' and dark with suflfer- 
ing, it is true, yet gently closed over the dear orbs which 
again and for many a long year would enjoy the light of 
day. I felt a new man, I felt happy. In a few short 
hours I should receive her pardon — convey her home — de- 
clare my own guilt ; and while absolving her, offer myself 
as the mark of whatever vengeance her husband might 
choose to take. Me ! — oh, what was I ? I had no being ; 
it was dissolved into a mere yearning for her life — her con- 
tentment. I was about to render myself up as a criminal 
to a man whose most generous act would be to meet me in 
the field ; but that was nothing ; I thought not of it, either 
with gladness or regret. She lives — she shall be restored 
to all she loves — she once again will be at peace. 

" These were my dreams as I hung over her, and gradu- 
ally the break of day became more decided ; by the increas- 
ing light I could perceive that I had not deceived myself, 
she slept a healthy, profound, healing sleep : I returned to 
the outer room ; Osborne had wrapped himself in his great- 
coat, and lay stretched on the floor. I roused him, and told 
him to go for the horses and carriage immediately, so that 
the first thing that might welcome Alithea's awakening 
should be the offer of an immediate return home. He glad- 
ly obeyed, and left the hut ; but scarcely was he gone than 
a sort of consciousness came over me, that I would not re- 
main with her alone ; so I followed him at some little dis- 
tance towards the shed where the carriage and horses 
were. 

" The wind had scattered every cloud, and still howled 
through the clear gray morning sky ; the sea was in violent 
commotion, and huge surges broke heavily and rapidly on the 



FALKNBR. 203 

beach. The tide was flowing fast, and the bed of the river we 
had crossed so safely the night before was covered by the 
waves ; in a httle time the ford would be impassable, and this 
was another reason to hasten the arrival of the horses. To 
the east each crag and precipice, each vast mountain-top, 
showed in dark relief against the golden eastern sky ; sea- 
ward the horizon was misty from the gale, and the ocean 
stretched out inimitably; curlews and gulls screamed as 
they skimmed the crested waves, and breaker after breaker 
dashed furiously at my feet. It was a desolate, but a mag- 
nificent spectacle, and my throbbing heart was in unison 
with its vast grandeurs. I blessed sea, and wind, and heav- 
en, and the dawn; the guilt of my soul had passed from 
me, and without the grievous penalty I had dreaded ; all 
again was well. I walked swiftly on, I reached the shed. 
Osborne was busy with the horses ; he had done what he 
could for them the night before, and they seemed tolerably 
fresh. I spoke cheerfully to the man, as I helped to har- 
ness them. Osborne was still pale with fright; but when I 
told him that I was going to carry the lady back to her 
friends, and that there was nothing to fear, he took heart; 
I bade him come slowly along, that the noise of the wheels 
might not waken her, if she still slept, and I walked beside, 
my hand on the neck of one horse while he bestrode the 
other, and we gazed around and pointed to each other signs 
of the recent tempest, which had been so much more vio- 
lent than 1 in my preoccupation had known; and then as 
the idea of the ford being rendered impassable crossed me 
again, 1 bid him get on at a quicker rate, there was no 
fear of disturbing the sleeping lady, for the wheels were 
noiseless on the heavy sands. 

" I have mentioned that huge sand-hills were thrown up 
here and there on the beach ; two of the highest of these 
shut out all view of the hut, and even of the river, till we 
were close upon them. As we passed these mounds, my first 
glance was to see the state of the tide. The bed of the 
river was entirely filled with dashing crested waves, which 
poured in from the sea with inconceivable rapidity, and 
obliterated every trace of the ford. I looked anxiously 
round, but it was plain we must wait for the ebbing tide, or 
make a long detour to seek the upper part of the stream. 
As I gazed, something caught my eyes as peculiar. The 
foam of the breaking waves was white, and this object also 
was white ; yet was it real, or but the mockery of a human 
form ^ For a moment my heart ceased to beat, and then 
with wings to my feet I ran to the hut : I rushed into the 
inner room — the couch was deserted, the whole dwelling 
empty ! I hurried back to the river's brink and strained 
my eyeballs to catch a sight of the same fearful object ; it 
was there ! I could not mistake, a wave lifted up and then 



204 FALKNER. 

again overwhelmed and swallowed it in its abyss, the form, 
no longer living, the dead body of Alithea. 1 threw myself 
into the water, I battled with the waves, the tide bore me 
on. Again and again I was blinded and overwhelmed by 
the surges, but still 1 held on, and made my way into the 
middle of the roaring flood. As I rose gasping from one 
large billow that had, for more than a minute, ingulfed me 
in its strangling depths, I felt a substance strike against 
me ; instinctively I clutched at it, and grasping her long 
streaming hair, now with renewed strength and frantic en- 
ergy I made for shore. I was as a plaything to the foam- 
ing billows ; but by yielding to them, by suffering myself to 
be carried up the tide to wliere the river grew shallower 
and the waves less powerful, I was miserable enough at 
last to escape. Fool ! did I not know that she was dead ! — 
why did I not, clasping her in my arms, resign my life to the 
waters ? No ! she had returned to me from the gates of 
death the night before, and I madly deemed the miracle 
would be twice performed. 

" I reached the bank. Osborne, trembling and ghastly, 
helped me to lift her on shore ; we endeavoured by various 
means to recall the spark of life — it was too late. She had 
been long in the water, and was quite dead ! 

" How can I write these words, how linger on these hid- 
eous details ? Alas ! they are for ever before me ; no day, 
no hour passes but the whole scene is acted over again with 
startling vividness — and my soxd shrinks and shudders from 
the present image of death. Even now that the dawn of 
Greece is breaking among the hills -that the balmy summer 
air fans my cheek — that the distant mountain-tops are gilded 
by the morning beams, and the rich, tranquil beauty of a 
southern clime is around — yet even now the roar of that dis- 
tant ocean is in my ear, the desolate coast stretches out far 
away, and Alithea lies pale, drenched, and lifeless at my 
feet. 

" I saw it all ; and how often and for ever do I go over in 
' my thoughts what had passed during the interval of my ab- 
sence ! She had awoke refreshed — she collected her scat- 
tered senses — she remembered the hideous vision of her 
carrying off. She knew not of my relenting — she feared my 
violence — she resolved to escape ; she was familiar with 
that shore ; its rivers and the laws which governed their tides 
were, known to her. She believed that she could pass the 
water in safety, for often, when the bed of tlie estuary was 
apparently full, she knew that ^he had forded the stream on 
horseback, and the waters scarce covered the animal's fet- 
lock. Intent on escaping the man of violence, of reaching 
her beloved home, she had entered the stream without cal- 
culating the difference of a calm neap tide, and the mass of 
irresistible waves borne up by the strong western wind; 



FALKNEn. 205 

they perhaps seemed less terrible than I ; to fly from me, 
she encountered, delivered herself up to them ! and there 
she lay, destroyed, dead, lost for ever ! 

" No more of this ! What then I did may, I now con- 
ceive, appear more shocking to my countrymen than all that 
•went before. But I knew little of Enghsh customs. J had 
gone out an inexperienced stripling to India, and my modes 
of action were formed tliere. I now know that when one 
dies in England, they keep tlie lifeless corpse, weeping and 
watching beside it, for many days, and then, with lingering 
ceremonies and the attendance of relations and friends, lay 
it solemnly in the dismal tomb. But I had seen whole ar- 
mies mown down by the sword and disease ; 1 was accus- 
tomed to the soldier's hastily-dug grave in a climate where 
corruption follows fast upon deatli. To hide the dead with 
speed from every eye was the Indian custom. 

" And then, should I take the corpse of Alithea, wet with 
the ocean tide, ghastly from the throes of recent death, and 
bear her to her home, and say, liere she is — she enjoyed life 
and happiness yester-evening; I bore her away, behold my 
work ! Should I present myself to her husband, answer his 
questions, detail the various stages of my crime, and tamely 
await his vengeance or his pardon ] Never ! 

" Or should I destroy myself at her side, and leave our 
bodies to tell a frightful tale of mystery and horror ? The 
miserable terrors of my associate would of itself have pre- 
vented this catastrophe. I had to reassure and protect him. 

" My resolution was quickly made not to outhve my vic- 
tim — and, making atonement by my death, what other pen- 
alty could I be called upon to pay ? But my death should 
not be a tale to appal or amuse the vulgar, or to swell with 
triumph the heart of Alithea's tyrant husband. Secrecy and 
oblivion should cover all. My plan was laid, and I acted 
accordingly. 

" Osborne entered into the design with alacrity. He was 
moved by other feelings, he was possessed by an agony of 
fear ; he did not doubt but that we should be accused of 
murdering the hapless lady, and the image of the gallows 
flitted before his eyes. 

" Understanding each other without many words, Osborne 
said that in the shed where we had placed the horses he had 
remarked a spade ; it was so early that no one was about to 
observe liim, and he went to fetch it. He returned in about 
half an hour ; I sat keeping watch the while by the dead, 
and feasted my eyes with the sight of my pale vicum as she 
lay at my feet. Of what tough materials is man formed, 
that my heart-strings did not break, and that I outlived that 
hour! 

" Osborne returned, and we went to work. Some ten 
yards above high-water mark there was a single leafless, 
18 



206 FALKNER. 

moss-grown, skeleton tree, with something hke soil about 
its roots, and sheltered from the spray and breeze by the 
vicinity of a sand-hill ; close to it Ave dug a deep grave. I 
placed the cushions in it on which her fair form, all warm 
and soft, had reposed, during the preceding night. Then I 
composed her stark limbs, banding the long wet tresses of 
her abimdant hair across her eyes, for ever closed, crossing 
her hands upon her pure, death-cold bosom ; I touched her 
reverently — I did not even profane her hand by a kiss ; I 
wrapped her in her cloak, and laid her in the open grave. I 
tore down some of the decaying boughs of the withered 
tree, and, arching them above her body, threw my own 
cloak above, so with vain care to protect her lifeless form 
from immediate contact with the soil. Then we filled up 
the grave, and, scattering dry sand above, removed every 
sign of recent opening. This was performed in silence, or 
with whispered words — the roaring waves were her knell, 
the rising sun her funeral torch ; I was satisfied with the 
solemnity of the scene around, and I was composed, for I 
was resolved on death. Osborne trembled in every limb, 
and his face rivalled in hue her wan, bloodless countenance. 

" We carefully removed every article from the hut, and 
put all in the same state as when we found it. I did not, 
indeed, fear discovery ; who would imagine that my course 
would be to the desolate seabeach ■? and if they did, and 
found all, I should be far, I should be dead. But Osborne 
was eager to obliterate every mark of the hut having been 
visited. When he was satisfied that he had accomplished 
this, without looking behind, I got into the carriage, we 
drove with what speed we could to Lancaster, and thence 
to Liverpool. Osborne was in a transport of fear till he 
got on board an American vessel : fortunately, the wind 
having veered towards the north, there was one about to 
weigh anchor. I placed a considerable sum of money in 
my accomplice's hands, and recommended discretion. He 
would have questioned me as to my own designs, but he 
respected my stern silence, and we parted never to meet 
again. A small coasting vessel, bound for Plymouth, was 
at that moment making her way out of harbour ; I hailed a 
man on board, and threw myself on to the deck. 

" Elizhbeth can tell the rest. She knows how I landed 
in a secluded village of Cornwall, with the intent there to 
make due sacrifice to the outraged manes of Alithea. Still 
I grieve for the unaccomplished purpose ; still I repine that 
I did not there die. She stopped my hand. An angel, in 
likeness of a human child, arrested my arm ; and winning 
my wonder by her extraordinary loveliness, and my interest 
by her orphan and desolate position, I seemed called upon 
to live for her sake. The struggle was violent, for I longed 
to make atonement by my death ; and I longed to forget my 



PALKNER. 207 

crimes and their consequences in the oblivious grave. At 
first I thought that the respite I granted myself would be 
short, but it lasted for years; and I dragged out a living 
death, having survived love and hope : remorse my fol- 
lower ; ghastly images of crime and death my comrades. 
I travelled from place to place, pursued by Alithea's upbraid- 
ing ghost and my own torturing thoughts. By frequent 
change of place, I sought to assuage my pangs ; I believe 
that 1 increased them. They might perhaps have been mit- 
igated by the monotony of a stationary life. But a travel- 
ler's existence is all sensation, and every emotion is rendered 
active and penetrating by the perpetual variation of the ap- 
pearances of natural objects. Thought and feeling awaken 
with the sun, and dewy eve and the radiant stars cause the 
eyes to turn towards the backward path ; while darkness, 
felt palpably, as one proceeds onward in an unknown land, 
awakens the snakes of conscience. The storm and expected 
wreck are images of retribution ; while yet the destruction 
I pined for receded from before my thirsting lips. 

" Yet still I dragged on hfe, most unworthily and un- 
worthy, till on a day I saw the son of mj^ victim at Baden. 
I witnessed misery, widely spread, through my means; and 
felt that her disimbodied spirit must curse me for the (;vil I 
had brought on her beloved child. I remembered all she had 
fondly said of him : and the cloudless beauty of his face, his 
joyous laugh, and free step when last I saw him at her side. 
He was blighted and destroyed by me ; gloomy, savage, and 
wild, eternal sorrow was written on his brow, fear and 
hatred gleamed in his eyes. Such by my means had the 
son of Alithea become ; such had his base-minded father 
rendered him ; but mine the guilt — minebe the punishment ! 
What a wretch was 1, to live in peace and security, minis- 
tered to by an angel — while this dearest part of herself was 
doomed to anguish, and to the unmitigated influence of the 
demon for ever at his side, through my accursed means. 

" From that hour I became thrice hateful to myself; I 
had tried to hve for my Ehzabeth ; but that idea passed 
away with every other solace, in which hitherto i had ini- 
quitously indulged. I resolved to die ; but as a taint has 
been cast by the most villanous heart in the world upon her 
hallowed name, my first task was to i-edeem that out of her 
unworthy husband's hands ; and yet I could not, I would 
not, while living, disclose the truth and give a triumph to 
my enemy. But soon, oh, very soon, will the soil of Greece 
drink up my life-blood ! and while this writing proclaims her 
innocence, J shall be sheltered by the grave from the taunts 
and revilings of men. 

" And you, dear child of my affection, who have been to 
me as a blessing immediate from Heaven, who have warmed 
my heart with your love and smoothed the fierceness of my 



208 FALKNER. 

temper by your unalterable sweetness ; who having blessed 
me with your virtues, clinging to the ruin with a fidehty I 
believed impossible, how shall I say farewell to you "! For- 
give your friend that he deserts you ; long ago he deserted 
himself and the better part of life ; it is but the shell of him 
that remains; and that corroded by remorse, and the desire 
to die. You deserve better than to have your young days 
clouded by the shadow of my crime thrown over them. 
Forget me, and be happy ; you must be so, while I — The 
sun is up; the martial trumpet sounds. It is a joy to think 
that I shall have a soldier's grave " 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

Such was the tale presented to the young, enthusiastic^ 
innocent Elizabeth, unveiling the secret of the life of him 
whom she revered above all the world. Her soul was in 
her eyes as she read, or rather devoured, page after page^ 
till she arrived at the catastrophe ; when a burst of pas- 
sionate tears relieved her swelling bosom, and carried away 
upon their stream a thousand, trembling, unspeakable fears 
that had gathered in wild multitude around her heart. "He 
is innocent ! He, my benefactor, my father, when he ac- 
cused himself of murder, spoke, as I thought, of a conse- 
quence, not an act ; and if the chief principle of religion be 
true, that repentance washes away sin, he is pardoned, and 
the crime forgotten. Noble, generous heart ! What drops 
of anguish have you not shed in atonement ! What glorious 
obsequies you pay your victim. For she also is acquitted. 
Gerard's mother is more than innocent. She was true to 
him, and to the purest sentiments of nature, to the end; 
nay, more, her life was sacrificed to them." And Elizabeth 
went over in her mind, as Falkner had often done, the emo- 
tions that actuated her to attempt the dangerous passage 
across the ford. She fancied her awakening on the fatal 
morning, her wild look around. No familiar object met her 
view — nor did any friendly voice reassure her ; the strange 
scene and solitary hut were testimonies that she did not dream, 
and that she had really been torn from home and all she 
loved by a violence she could not resist. At first she must 
have listened tremblingly, and fancied her lover-enemy at 
hand. But all is still. She rises ; she ventures to examine 
the strange dwelling to which she has been carried — no 
human being presents himself. She quits the threshold of 
the hut — a familiar scene is before her eyes, the ocean and 
the dreary but well-known shore — the river which she has 



FALKNER. 209 

80 often crossed — and among the foldings of the not distant 
hills, imbosomed in trees, she sees Dromore, her tranquil 
home. She knows that it is but a few miles distant; and 
while she fancies her enemy near at hand, yet the hope 
animates her that she may cross the stream unseen, and 
escape. Elizabeth imaged all her hopes and fears ; she 
seemed to see the hapless lady place her uncertain feet, 
her purpose being stanch and unfaltering, witliin the shal- 
low wave, which she believed she could traverse in safety ; 
the roar of the advancing tide was in her ears, the spray 
dashed round her, and her footing grev/ uncertain, as she 
sought to find her way across the rugged bed of the river. 
But she thought only of her child, from whom she had been 
torn, and her fears of being, through the deed of violence 
which had carried her otT, excluded from her home for ever. 
To arrive at that home was all her desire. As she ad- 
vanced she still fixed her eyes on the clustering woods of 
Dromore, sleeping stilly in the gray, quiet dawn : and she 
risked her life unhesitatingly to gain the sacred shelter. 
All depended on htr reaching it, quickly and alone ; and 
she was doomed never to see it more. She advances reso- 
lutely, but cautiously. The waves rise higher — she is in 
the midst of the stream — lier fooling becomes more unsteady 
— does she look back 1 — there is no return — her heart 
proudly repels the very thought of desiring it. She gathers 
her garments about her — she looks right onward — she steps 
more carefully — the surges buffet her — they rise higher and 
higher — the spray is dashed over her head, and blinds her 
sight — a false step — she falls — the waters open to ingulf 
her — she is borne away. One thought of her Gerard — one 
prayer to Heaven, and the human eye can pursue the part- 
ing soul no farther. She is lost to earth — none upon it can 
any longer claim a portion in her. 

I3ut she is innocent. The last word murmured in her 
last sleep — the last word human ears heard her utter, was 
her son's name. To the last she was all mother ; her heart 
filled with that deep yearning, which a young mother feels 
to be the very essence of her life, for the presence of her 
child. There is something so beautiful in a young mother's 
feelings. Usually a creature to be fostered and protected 
— taught to look to another for aid and safety ; yet a woman 
is the undaunted guardian of her little child. She will ex- 
pose herself to a thousand dangers to shield his fragile- 
being from harm. If sickness or injury approach him, her 
heart is transfixed by terror: readily, joyfully, she would 
give her own blood to sustain him. The world is a hideous 
desert when she is threatened to be deprived of him ; and 
when he is near, and she takes him to the shelter of her 
bosom, and wraps him in her soft, warm embrace, she cares 
for nothing beyond that circle ; and his smiles and infantine 
18» 



210 ' Falkner. 

caresses are the life of her life. Such a mother was Ali- 
thea ; and in Gerard she possessed a son capable of cal- 
ling forth in its intensity, and of fully rewarding, her maternal 
tenderness. What wonder, when she saw him cast piti- 
lessly down on the road-side^ — aUve or dead she knew not 
• — the wheel of the carriage that bore her away might have 
crushed and destroyed his tender limbs— what wonder that 
she should be threatened by instant death, through the ex- 
cess of her agony 1 What wonder that, reviving from 
death, her first and only thought was to escape — to get back 
to him — to clasp him to her heart — never to be severed 
more T 

How glad, and yet how miserable, Gerard would be to 
read this tale. His proudest and fondest assertions certi- 
fied as true, and yet to feel that he had lost her for ever, 
whose excellence was proved to be thus paramount. Eliza- 
beth's reflections now rested on him— and now turned to 
Falkner — and now she opened the manuscript again, and 
read anew — and then again her heart made its commen- 
tary, and she wept and rejoiced ; and longed to comfort her 
father, and congratulate Neville, all in a breath. 

She never thought of herself. This was Elizabeth's pe- 
culiarity. She could be so engrossed by sympathy for oth- 
ers, that she could forget herself wholly. At length she 
remembered her father's directions, that his manuscript 
should be given to Neville when he called. She had no 
thought of disobeying ; nor could she help being glad that 
Gerard's filial affection should receive its reward, even while 
she was pained to think that Falkner should be changed at 
once into an enemy in her new friend's eyes. Still her gen- 
erous nature led her instantly to ally herself to the weaker 
side. Neville was triumphant — Falkner humiliated and 
fallen ; and thus he drew her closer to him, and riveted the 
chain of gratitude and fidelity by which she was bound. 
She had shed many tears for Alithea's untimely fate ; for 
the virtues and happiness hurried to a mysterious end — bu- 
ried in an untold grave. But she had her reward. Long 
had she been there, where there is no trouble, no strife — 
her pure soul received into the company of kindred angels. 
Her heroism would now be known ; her actions justified ; 
she would be raised above her sex in praise ; her memory 
crowned with unfading glory. It was Falkner who needed 
the exertion of present service, to forgive and console. He 
must be raised from his self-abasement; his despair must 
be cured. He must feel that the hour of remorse was past ; 
that of repentance and forgiveness come. He must be re- 
warded for all his goodness to her, by being made to love 
life for her sake. Neville, whose heart was free from every 
base alloy, would enter into these feelings. Content to res- 
cue the fame of his mother from the injury done it ; happy 



• PALKNER. 211 

ill being assured that liis faithful, filial love had not been 
mistaken in its reliance, the first emotion of his generous 
soul would be to forgive. Yet Elizabeth fancied that, borne 
away by his ardour in his mother's cause, he might alto- 
gether pass over and forget the extenuating circumstances 
that rendered Falkner worthy of pardon ; and she thought it 
right to accompany the narrative with an explanatory letter. 
Thus she wrote : — 

" My father has given me these papers for the purpose of 
transmitting them to you. I need not tell you that I read 
them this day for the first time : that till now I was in total 
ignorance of the facts they disclose. 

" It is most true that I, a little child, stopped his arm as 
he was about to destroy himself. Moved by pity for my or- 
phan state, he consented to live. Is this a crime] Yet I 
could not reconcile him to life, and he went to Greece, 
seeking death. He went there in the pride of life and 
health. You saw him at Marseilles ; you saw him to-day 
— the living effigy of remorse and wo. 

" It is hard, at the moment you discover that he was the 
cause of your mother's death, to ask your sympathy for his 
sufferings and high-minded contrition. I leave you to fol- 
low the dictates of your own heart with regard to him. 
For myself, attached to him as I am by every sentiment of 
affection and gratitude, 1 am, from this moment, more than 
ever devoted to his service, and eager to prove to him my 
fidelity. 

" These words come from myself. My father knows not 
what I write. He simply told me to inform you that he 
should remain here ; and if you desired aught of him, he 
was ready at your call. He thinks, perhaps, you may re- 
quire further explanation — further guidance to your moth- 
er's grave. Oh, secret and obscure as it is, is it not guarded 
by angels ? Have you not been already led to it ]" 

She left off abruptly — she heard a ring at the outer gate 
— the hour had come — it must be Neville ! She placed the 
papers in the writing-case, and directing and sealing the let- 
ter, gave both to the servant, to be delivered to him. 
Scarcely was this done, when suddenly it flashed across 
her how the relative situations of Neville and herself were 
changed. That morning she had been his chosen friend — 
into her ear he poured the history of his hopes and fears — 
he claimed her sympathy — and she felt that from her he de- 
rived a happiness never felt before. Now he must regard 
her as the daughter of his mother's destroyer, and should 
she ever see him more 1 Instinctively she rushed to the 
highest room of the house to catch one other glimpse. By 
the time she reached the window, the act was fulfilled that 



212 FALKXER. 

changed both their lives — the packet given. Dimly, in the 
twilight, she saw a horseman emerge from under the wall 
of the garden, and slowly cross the heath ; slowly at first, 
as if he did not comprehend what had happened, or what he 
was doing. There is something that excites unspeakable 
tenderness when the form of the loved one is seen, even 
from far ; and Elizabeth, though unaware of the nature and 
depth of her sensations, yet felt her heart soften and yearn 
towards her friend. A blessing fell from her lips ; while the 
consciousness of all of doubtful and sad that he must at that 
moment experience, at being sent from her door with a 
written communication only, joined to the knowledge that 
each succeeding hour would add to the barriers that separated 
them, so overcame her, that when at last he put spurs to his 
horse, and was borne out of sight into the thickening twi^ 
light, she burst into a passion of tears, and wept for some 
time, not knowing what she did, nor where she was ; but 
feeling that from that hour the colour of her existence was 
changed — its golden hue departed — and that patience and 
resignation must henceforth take place of gladness and 
hope. 

She roused herself after a few minutes from this sort of 
trance, and her thoughts reverted to Falkner. There are 
few crimes so enormous but that, when we undertake to an- 
alyze their motives, they do not find some excuse and par- 
don in the eyes of all except their perpetrators. Sympa- 
thy is more of a deceiver than conscience. The stander-by 
may dilate on the force of passion and the power of tempt- 
ation, but the guilty are not cheated by such subterfuges ; 
he knows that the still voice within was articulate to him. 
He remembers that at the moment of action he felt his arm 
checked, his ear warned ; he could have stopped, and been 
innocent. Perhaps of all the scourges wielded by tlxe 
dread Eumenides, there is none so torturing as the con- 
sciousness of the wilfulness of the act deplored. It is a 
mysterious principle, to be driven out by no reasonings, no 
commonplace philosophy. It had eaten into Falkner's 
soul; taken sleep from his eyes, strength from his limbs, 
every healthy and self-complacent sentiment from his soul. 

Elizabeth, however, innocent and good as she was, fan- 
cied a thousand excuses for an act, whose frightful catas- 
trophe was not foreseen. Falkner called himself a mur- 
derer ; but, though the untimely death of the unfortunate 
Alithea was brought about by his means, so far from being 
guilty of the deed, he would have given a thousand lives to 
save her. Since her death, she well knew that sleep had 
not refreshed, nor food nourished him. He was blighted, 
turned from all the uses and enjoyments of life ; he desired 
the repose of the grave ; he had sought death ; he had made 
himself akin to the grim destroyer. 



PALKNER. 213 

That he had acted wrongly, nay, criminally, Elizabeth ac- 
knowledged. But by how many throes of anguish, by what 
repentance and sacrifice of all that life holds dear, had he 
not expiated the past ! Elizabeth longed to see him again, 
to tell him how fondly she still loved him, how he was ex- 
alted, not debased, in her eyes ; to comfort him with her 
sympatliy, cherish him with her love. It was true that she 
did not quite approve of the present state of his mind ; 
there was too much of pride, too much despair. But when 
he found that, instead of scorn, his confession met with 
compassion and redoubled affection, his heart would soften, 
he would no longer desire to die, so to escape from blame 
and retribution ; but be content to endure, and teach him- 
self that resignation which is the noblest and most unat- 
tainable temper of mind to which humanity may aspire. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

While these thoughts, founded on a natural piety, pure 
and gentle as herself, occupied Elizabeth, Fallcner indulged 
in far other speculations. He triumphed. It is strange, 
tiiat although perpetually deceived and led astray by our 
imagination, we always fancy that we can foresee, and in 
some sort command, the consequences of our actions. 
Falkner, while he deplored his beloved victim with the 
most heartfelt grief, yet at no time experienced a qualm of 
fear, because he believed that he held the means of escape 
in his own hands, and could always shelter himself from 
the obloquy that he now incurred, in an unapproachable 
tomb. 'I'hrough strange accidents, that resource had failed 
him ; he was alive, and his secret was in the hands of his 
enemies. But as he confronted the injured son of a more 
injured mother, another thought, dearer to his lawless yet 
heroic imagination, presented itself. There was one repa- 
ration he could make, and doubtless it would be demanded 
of him. The law of honour would be resorted to, to 
avenge the death of Alithea. He did not for a moment 
doubt but that Neville would challenge him. His care must 
be to fall by the young man's hand. There was a sort of 
poetical justice in this idea, a noble and fitting ending to his 
disastrous story, that solaced his pride, and filled him, as it 
has been said, with triumph. 

Having arrived at this conclusion, he felt sure also that 
the consummation would follow immediately on Neville's 
perusal of the narration put into his hands, This very day 



214 FALKNER. 

might be his last, and it was necessary to make every pre- 
liminary arrangement. Leaving Elizabeth occupied with 
his fatal papers, he drove to town to seek Mr. Ra?iy's soli- 
citor, to place in his hands the proofs of his adopted child's 
birth, so to secure her future acknowledgment by her 
father's family. She was not his child ; no drop of his 
blood flowed in her veins ; his name did not belong to her. 
As Miss Raby, Neville would gladly seek her, while as Miss 
Falkner, an insuperable barrier existed between them ; and 
though he fell by Gerard's hand, yet he meant to leave a 
letter to convmce her that this was but a sort of cunning 
suicide, and that it need place no obstacle between two per- 
sons whom he believed were formed for each other. What 
more delightful than that his own Elizabeth should love the 
son of AUthea? If he survived, indeed, this mutual attach- 
ment would be beset by difficulties ; his death was like the 
levelling of a mountain — all was plain, easy, happy, when he 
no longer deformed the scene. 

He had some difficulty in meeting with Mr. Raby's man 
of business. He found him, however, perfectly acquainted 
•with all the circumstances, and eager to examine the docu- 
ments placed in his hands. He had already written to 
Treby, and received confirmation of all Falkner's statements. 
This activity had been imparted by Mrs. Raby, then at Tun- 
bridge Wells, who was anxious to render justice to the 
orphan, the moment she had been informed of her existence ; 
Falkner heard with great satisfaction of the excellent qual- 
ities of this lady, and the interest she showe'd in poor 
Edwin Ruby's orphan child. The day was consumed, and 
part of the evening, in these arrangements, and a final inter- 
view with his own solicitor. His will was already made : 
he divided his property between Elizabeth and his cousin, 
the only surviving daughter of his uncle. 

Something of shame was in his heart when he returned 
and met again his adopted child, a shame ennobled by the 
sense that he was soon to offer up his life as atonement ; 
while she, who had long been reflecting on all that occurred, 
yet felt it brought home more keenly when she again saw 
him, and read in his countenance the tale of remorse and 
grief, more legibly than in the written page. Passionately 
and gratefully attached, her heart warmed towards him, his 
very look of suffering was an urgent call upon her fidelity ; 
and though she felt all the change that his disclosures oper- 
ated, though she saw the flowery path she had been tread- 
ing at once wasted and barren, all sense of personal disap- 
pointment was merged in her desire to prove her affection 
at that moment ; silently, but with heroic fervour, she offer- 
ed herself up at the shrine of his broken fortunes : love, 
friendship, good name, life itself, if need were, should be 



FALKNER. S15 

set at naught ; weighed in a balance against her duty to 
him, they were but as a feather in the scale. 

They sat together as of old, their looks were affectionate, 
their talk cheeerful ; it seemed to embrace the future as well 
as the present, and yet to exclude every painful reflection. 
The heart of each bore its own secret without betrayal. 
Falkner expected in a few hours to be called upon to expiate 
with his life the evils he had caused, while Elizabeth's 
thoughts wandered to Neville. Now he was reading the 
fatal naiTative ; now agonized pity for his mother, now ab- 
horrence of Falkner, alternated in his heart ; her image was 
cast out, or only called up to be associated with the hated 
name of the destroyer. Her sensibility was keenly excited. 
How ardently had she prayed, how fervently had she believed 
that he would succeed in establishing his mother's innocence ; 
in what high honour she had held his filial piety — these things 
were still the same ; yet how changed were both towards 
each other ! It w^as impossible that they should ever meet 
again as formerly, ever take counsel together, that she should 
ever be made happy by the reflection that she was his friend 
and comforter. 

Falkner called her attention by a detail of his journey to 
Belleforest, and the probability that slie would soon have a 
visit from her aunt. Here was a new revulsion ; Elizabeth 
was forced to remember that her name was Raby. Falkner 
described the majestic beauties of the ancestral seat of her 
family, tried to impress her with the imposing grandeur of 
its antiquity, to interest her in its religion and prejudices, to 
gild the reality of pride and desertion with the false colours 
of principle and faith. He spoke of Mrs. Raby, as he had 
heard her mentioned, as a woman of warm feeling, strong 
intellect, and extreme generosity. Elizabeth listened, but 
her eyes were fondly fixed on Falkner's face, and at last 
she exclaimed with spontaneous earnestness, " For all this 
I am your child, and we shall never be divided !" 

It was now near midnight ; at each moment Falkner ex- 
pected a message from the son of his victim. He engaged 
Ehzabeth to retire to her room, that her suspicions might 
not be excited by the arrival of a visiter at that unaccus- 
tomed hour. He was glad to see her wholly unsuspicious 
of what he deemed the inevitable consequence of his con- 
fession ; for though her thoughts evidently wandered, and 
traces of regret clouded her brow, it was regret, not fear, 
that inspired sadness ; she tried to cheer, to comfort for the 
past, and gain fortitude to meet the future ; but that future 
presented no more appalUng image than the never seeing 
Gerard Neville more. 

She went, and he remained waiting and watching the 
hvelong night, but no one came. The following day passed, 
and the same mysterious silence was observed. What 



216 PALKNER. 

could it mean 1 It was impossible to accuse Alithea's child 
of lukewarmness in her cause, or want of courage. A sort 
of dark, mysterious fear crept over Falkner's heart ; some- 
thing would be done ; some vengeance taken. In what 
frightful shape would the ghost of the past haunt him ] He 
seemed to scent horror and disgrace in the very winds, yet 
he was spell-bound ; he must await Neville's call, he must 
remain as he had promised, to offer the atonement demand- 
ed. He had felt glad and triumphant when lie believed that 
reparation to be his life in the field ; but tlie delay was omin- 
ous ; he knew not why, but at each ring at tlie gate, each 
step along the passages of the house, his heart grew chill, 
his soul quailed. He despised himself fcr cowardice, yet it 
was not that ; but he knew that evil was at hand ; he pitied 
Elizabeth, and he shrunk from himself as one doomed to 
dishonour and unspeakable misery. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

On arriving in London from Hastings, Neville had repaired, 
as usual, to his father's house ; which, as was to be supposed 
at that season of the year, he found empty. On the second 
day, Sir Boy vill presented himself unexpectedly. He looked 
cold and stern as ever. The father and son met as they 
were wont : the latter anticipating rebuke and angry, unjust 
commands ; the other assuming the lofty tone of legitimate 
authority, indignant at being disputed. " I hear from So- 
phia," said Sir Boy vill, " that you are on the point of sailing 
for America, and this without deigning to acquaint me with 
your purpose. Is this fair 1 Common acquaintances act 
with more ceremony towards each other." 

" I feared your disapproval, sir," replied Neville. 

*' j*ir}(\ thought it less faulty to act without than against a 
father's consent • such is the vulgar notion ; but a very erro- 
neous one. It douftios the injury, both to disobey me, and 
to keep me in the dark with regard to my danger." 

" But if the danger be only imaginary 1" observed his 
son. 

Sir BoyviU replied, " I am not come to argue with you, 
nor to dissuade, nor to issue commands. I come with the 
more humble intention of being instructed. Sophy, though 
she evidently regrets your purposed journey, yet avers that 
it is not so wild and aimless as your expeditions have hither- 
to been ; that the letters from Lancaster did lead to some 
unlooked-for disclosure. You little know me if you are not 
aware that I have the question, which you debate in so rash 



FALKNER. 217 

and boyish a manner, as deeply and more sorely at heart 
than you. Let me then he;ir the tale you have heard." 

Surprised, and even touched to find his father unbend so 
far as to listen to him, Neville related the American's story, 
and the informHtion that it seemed prohnble that Osborne 
could afford. Sir Boyvjll listened attentively, and then 
observed, " [t will be matter of triumph to you, Gerurd, to 
learn that your strange perseverance has a little overcome 
me. You are no longer a mere lad ; and though inexpe- 
rienced and headstrong, you have shown talents and deci- 
sion ; and I am willing to believe, though perhaps I ara 
wrong, that you are guided by conviction, and not by a 
blind wish to disobey. Your conduct has been consistent 
throughiiut, and so far is entitled to respect. But you are, 
as I have said (and forgive a father for saying so), inexpe- 
rienced — a mere child in the world's ways. You go straight- 
forward to your object, reckless of the remark that you ex- 
cite, and the gall and wormwood that such remark imparts. 
Why will you not in some degree be swayed by me 1 Our 
views, if you would deign to inquire into mine, are not so 
dissimilar." 

Neville knew not what to answer, for every reply and 
explanation were likely to offend. " Hitherto," continued 
Sir Boyvill, " in disgust at your wilfulness, I have only 
issued disregarded commands. But I am willing to treat my 
son as my friend, if he will let me ; but it must be on one 
condition. I exact one promise." 

"lam ready, sir," replied Neville, "to enter into any 
engagement that does not defeat my purpose." 

" It is simply," said Sir Boyvill, " that you shall do no- 
thing without consulting me. I, on the other hand, will prom- 
ise not to interfere by issuing orders which you will not 
obey. But if Ijiere is any sense in your pursuit, my counsels 
may assist. I ask no more than to offer advice, and to have 
opportunity afforded me to express my opinion. Will you 
not allow that so much is due to me 1 Will you not engage to 
communicate your projects, and to acquaint me unreserved- 
ly with every circumstance that falls to your knowledge I 
This is the limit of my exactions." 

" Most willingly I make this promise," exclaimed Neville. 
" It will indeed be my pride to have your participation in my 
sacred task." 

" How far I can afford that," replied Sir Boyvill, " depends 
on the conduct you will pursue. With regard to this Os- 
borne, I consent at once that his story should be sifted ; nay, 
that you should go to America for that purpose, while you 
are ready to engage that you will not act on any information 
you may gather, without mv knowledge." 

" You may depend," said Gerard, " that I will keep to the 
letter of my promise ; and I pledge my honour, gladly and 
1» K 



^18 FALKNEK. 

unreservedly, to tell you everything, to learn your wishes, 
and to endeavour throughout to act with your approbation." 

This concession made on both sides, the father and son 
conversed on more unreserved and kinder terms than they 
had ever before done. They passed the evening together, 
and though the arrogance, the wounded pride, the irritated 
feelings, and unredeemed selfishness of Sir Boyvill betrayed 
themselves at every moment, Gerard saw with surprise the 
weakness masked by so imposing an exterior. His angry 
commands and insulting blame had been used as batteries to 
defend the accessible part. He still loved and regretted 
Alithea ; he pined to be assured of her truth ; but he despised 
himself for these emotions — calling them feebleness and 
creduhty. He felt assured that his worst suspicions would 
be proved true. She might now be dead ; he thought it prob- 
able, that ere this her faults and sorrows were hushed in 
the grave : but had she remained voluntarily one half hour in 
the power of the man who had carried her from her home, no 
subsequent repentance, no remorse, no suflering could excul- 
pate her. What he feared, was the revival of a story so 
full of dishonour — the dragging a mangled half-formed talo 
again before the public, which would jeer his credulity, and 
make merry over the new gloss of a time-worn subject. 
When such a notion occupied his brain, his heart swelled 
with uncontrollable emotions of pride and indignation. 

Neville cared little for the world. He thought of his 
mother's wrongs and suflerings. He conjured up the long 
years which might have been spent in wretchedness; he 
longed, whatever she had done, to feel her maternal embrace, 
to show his gratitude for her early care of him. This was 
one view, one class of emotions present to his mind, when 
any occurrence tended to shake his belief in her unblemish- 
ed honour and integrity, which was the religion of his heart. 
At the same time he, as much as his father, abhorred that 
the indifferent and light-hearted, the levelling and base, 
should have any food administered to their loathsome appe- 
tite for slander. So far as his father's views were limited 
to the guarding Alithea's name from further discussion, 
Neville honoured them. He showed Sir Boyvill that he 
was not so imprudent as he seemed, and brought him at last 
to allow that some discovery might ensue from his voyage. 
This open-hearted and peaceful interchange of sentiment 
between them was very cheering to both ; and when Gerard 
visited Elizabeth the following day, his spirit was lighter 
and happier than it had ever been, and love was there to 
mingle its roseate visions with the sterner calls of duty. 
He entered Falkner's house with much of triumph, and 
more of hope gladdening his heart ; he left it horror-struck, 
aghast, and almost despairing. 



FALKNEU. 219 

He would not return to his father. EHzabeth's supposi- 
tion that Falkner spoice under a delusion, produced by sudden 
insanity ; and his reluctance that while doubt hung over the 
event, that her dear name should be needlessly mixed up 
with the tragedy of his mother's death, restrained him. He 
resolved at once to take no final step till the evening, till he 
had again seen Elizabeth, and learned what foundation there 
was for ihe tremendous avowal that still rung in his ears. 
The evening — he had mentioned the evening — but would it 
ever come? till then he walked in a frightful dream. He 
first went to the docks, withdrew his luggage, and yet left 
word that by possibility he might still join the vessel at 
Sheerness. He did this, for he was glad to give himself 
something to do ; and yet, soon after, how gladly would he 
have exchanged those hours of suspense for the certainty 
that too quickly came like a sudden ray of light, to show that 
he had long been walking at the edge of a giddy precipice. 
He received the packet and letter from the servant ; dizzy 
and confounded he rode away ; by the light of the first 
lamp he read Elizabeth's letter ; it disordered the current of 
his blood, it confused and maddened the functions of reason ; 
putting spurs to his horse, he galloped furiously on till he 
reached his father's house. 

Sir Boyvill was seated solitarily in his drawing-room, 
sipping his coffee, and indulging in various thought. His 
wedded life with Alithea — her charms, her admirable quali- 
ties, and sweet, endearing disposition — occupied him as they 
had never done before since her flight. For the first time, 
the veil, woven by anger and vanity, fell from his e3'es, and 
he saw distinctly the rashness and injustice of his past 
actions- He became convinced that deceit could never 
have had a part in her; did not her child resemble her, and 
was he not truth itself ? He had nourished an aversion to 
his son, as her offspring; now he looked on his virtues as 
an inheritance derived from his sweet mother, and his heart 
instinctively, unaccountably, warmed towards both. 

Gerard opened the door of the room and looked in ; Sir 
Boyvill could hardly have recognised him, his face whiter 
than marble, his eyes wild and wandering, his whole coun- 
tenance convulsed, his person shrunk up and writhing. He 
threw the packet on the table, crying out, " Victory, my 
father, victory !" in a voice so shrill and dissonant, so near 
a shriek, as to inspire his auditor with fear rather than 
triumph: "Read! read!" he continued, " I have not yet — 
I keep my word, you shall know all, even before me — and 
yet, I do know all, I have seen my mother's destroyer ! She 
is dead !" 

Sir BojTill now, in some degree, comprehended his son's 
agitation. He saw that he was too much excited to act with 
any calmness ; he could not guess how he had discovered 

K2 



220 FALKNER. 

the villain on whom both would desire to heap endless, un- 
saiiable revenge; but he did not wonder, that if he had real- 
ly encountered this mfin, and learned his deeds, that he 
should be transported into a sort of phrensy. He took up the 
packet — he cut the string that tied it — he turned over the 
papers, and his brow darkened. '"Here is a long narrative," 
he said ; " there is much of excuse, and much of explanation 
here. The story ought to be short that exculpates her; 1 do 
not like these varni^hings of the simple truth." 

" You will find none," said Neville ; " at least, I heard none. 
His words were direct — his avowal contained no subterfuge." 

" Of whom do you speak V asked Sir Boyvill. 

"Read," said Neville, •' and you will know more than I ; 
but half an hour ago those papers were put into iriy hands. 
I have not read them. 1 give them to you before I am aware 
of their contents, that I might fully acquit myself of my prom- 
ise. They come from Rupert Falkner, my mother's de- 
Blroyer." 

•• Leave me then to my task," said Sir Boyvill, in an al- 
tered and subdued tone. " You speak of strange things ; 
facts to undo a frightful past, and to generate a future dedi- 
cated to a new revenge. Leave me; let me remain alone 
while I read — while I ponder on what credit I may give — 
what course I must pursue. Leave me, Gerard. 1 have 
long injured you, but at last you will be repaid. Come back 
in a few hours ; the moment I am master of the contents 
of the manuscript I will see you." 

Gerard left him. He had scarcely been aware of what he 
was doing when he carried the packet, unopened, unexam- 
ined, to his father. He had feared that he might be tempted 
— to what ? — to conceal his mother's vindication'! Never ! 
Yet the responsibility sat heavy on him ; and, driven by an 
irresistible impulse, he had resolved to deprive himself of 
all power of acting basely by giving at once publicity to all 
that passed. When he had done this, he felt as if he had 
applied a match to some fatal rocket which would carry 
destruction to the very temple and shrine of his dearest 
hopes — to Elizabeth's happiness and life. But the deed was 
done ; he could but shut his eyes and let the mortal ball pro- 
ceed towards its destined prey. 

Gerard was young. He aspired to happiness with all the 
ardour of youth. While we are young we feel as if happi- 
ness were the birthright of humanity ; after a long and cruel 
apprenticeship, we disengage ourselves from this illusion — 
or from (a yet more difficult sacrifice) the realities that pro- 
duce felicity — for on earth there are such, though they are 
too often linked with adjuncts that make the purchase of 
them cost in the end peace of mind and a pure conscieftce. 
Thus was it with Gerard. With Elizabeth, winning her 
love and making her his own, he felt assured of a life of 



FALKNER. 221 

happiness; but to sacrifice his mother's name — the holy task 
to which he had dedicated himself from childhood — for the 
sake of obtaining her — it must not be ! 

With this thought came destruction to the fresh-sprung 
hopes that adorned his existence. Gerard's poetic and ten- 
der nature led him to form sweet dreams of joys derived 
from a union which would be cemented by affection, sym- 
pathy, and enthusiastic admiration of the virtues of his com- 
panion. In Elizabeth he had beheld the imbodying of all 
his wishes ; in her eyes he had read their accomplishment. 
Her love for her father had first awakened his love. Her 
wise, simple, upright train of thinking — the sensibility enno- 
bled by self-command, yet ever ready to spring forth and 
comfort the unhappy — her generosity — her total abnegation 
of self — her understanding so just and true, yet tempered 
with feminine aptitude to adapt itself to the situation and 
sentiments of others — all these qualities, discovered one by- 
one, and made dear by the friendship she displayed towards 
him, had opened the hitherto closed gates of the world's 
only paradise ; and now he found that, as the poet says, evil 
had entered even there — " and the trail of the serpent" 
marked with slimy poison the fairest and purest of Eden's 
flowers.* 

Neville had looked forward to a life of blameless but ec- 
static happiness, as her friend, her protector, her husband. 
Youth, without being presumptuous, is often sanguine. 
Prodigal of self, it expects, as of right, a full return. Ready 
to assist Elizabeth in her task of watching over her father's 
health — who, in his eyes, was wasting gradually away — he 
felt that he should be near to soften her regrets, and fill his 
place, and sooth her sinking spirits Avhen struck by a loss 
which to her would seem so dire. 

And now — Falkner ! He believed him to be in a state of 
health that did not leave liim many years to live. He recol- 
lected him at Marseilles, stretched on his couch, feeble as 
an infant, the hues of death on his broAv. He thought of 
him as he had seen him that morning — his figure bent by 
disease — his face ashy pale and worn. He was the man 
whom, thirteen years before, he remembered in upright, 
proud, and youthful strength ; wo and disease had brought 
on the ravages of age — he was struck by premature decay— 
a few years, by the course of nature, he would be laid in his 
grave. But Gerard eould not leave him this respite — he 
must at once meet him in such encounter as must end in the 
death of one of the combatants — whichever that might be, 

* " Alas, for man ! said the pitying spirit, 
Dearly you pay for your primal fall ! 
Some flowers of Eden you still inherit, 

But the trail of the serpent is over them all." 

Poradii* and th« Piri. 

in* 



22S PALKNER. 

there was no hope for Elizabeth — in either case she lost her 
all — in either case Falkner would die, and an insuperable 
barrier be raised between her and her only other friend. 
Neville's ardent and gentle spirit quivered with agony as he 
thought of these things. " Oh ye destructive powers of na- 
ture !" he cried; "come all! Storm, flood, and fire, min- 
gled in one dire whirlwind; or bring the deadlier tortures 
tyrants have inflicted and martyrs undergone, and say, can 
any agony equal tliat which convulses the human heart 
when writhing under contending passions — torn by contrary 
purposes ! This very morning Elizabeth was all the universe 
of hope and joy. I would not for worlds have injured one 
hair of her dear head — and now 1 meditate a deed that is to 
consign her to eternal grief." 

Athwart this tumult of thought came the recollection that 
he was still in ignorance of the truth. He called to mind 
the narrative which his father was then reading ; would it 
reveal aught that must alter the line of conduct which he 
now considered inevitable ! A devouring curiosity was 
awakened. Leaving his father, he had rushed into the open 
air, in obedience to the instinct that always leads the un- 
quiet mind to seek the solace of bodily activity. He had 
hurried into Hyde Park, which then, in the dimness of night, 
appeared a wide expanse — a limitless waste. He hurried 
to and fro on the turf — he saw nothing, he was aware of 
nothing, except the internal war that shook him. Now, as 
he felt the eager desire to get quit of doubt, he fancied that 
several hours must have elapsed, and that his father must 
be waiting for him. The clocks of London struck — he 
Counted — it was but eleven — he had been there scarcely 
more than an hour. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

NEViiiLE returned home — he paused at the drawing-room 
door — a slight noise indicated that his father was within — 
his hand was on the lock, but he retreated ; he would not 
intrude uncalled for — he wandered through the dark, empty 
rooms, till a bell rang. Sir Boyvill inquired for him — he 
hurried into his presence — he devoured the expression of 
his countenance with his eyes, trying to read the thought 
Avithin. Sir Boyvill's face was usually stamped with an un- 
varying expression of cold self-possession, mingled with 
sarcasm. These feelings were now at their height — his 
aged countenance, withered and deep lined, was admirably 
calculated to depict the couceatrated disdain that sat upon 



FALKNER. S2S 

his lips and elevated his brows. He pointed to the papers 
before him, and said in a composed, yet hollow voice, 
" Take these away — read, for it is necessary you should — 
tne amplified confession of themurderer." 

Gerard's blood ran cold. " Yet why call it a confession," 
continued Sir Boyvill, his assumed contempt rising into 
angry scorn ; " from the beginning to the end it is a lie. 
He would Viirnish over his unparalleled guilt — he would 
shelter himself fi-om its punishment, but in vain. Read, 
Gerard — read and be satisfied. I have wronged your moth- 
er — she was innocent — murdered. Be assured that her vin- 
dication shall be heard as loudly as her accusation, and 
that her destroyer shall die to expiate her death." 

" Be that my task," said Gerard, trembling and pale from 
the conflict of passion; "I take the office of vengeance on 
myself — I will meet Mr. Falkner." 

" Ha ! you think of a duel !" cried his father. " Remem- 
ber your promise, young man — I hold you strictly to it — you 
do nothing without first communicating with me. You 
must read these papers before you decide ; I have decided 
— be not afraid, 1 shall not forestall your purpose, I will not 
challenge the murderer: but. in return for this pledge, give 
me your word that you have no communication with the 
villain till you see me again. I will not balk you of your 
revenge, be sure of that; but you must see nie first." 

" I promise," said Gerard. 

" And one word more," continued Sir Boyvill ; " is there 
any possibility of this man's escape ! Is he wrapped in the 
security which his lie affords, or has he even now fled be- 
yond our vengeance ?" 

" Be his crimes what they may," replied Neville, "I be- 
lieve him to entertain a delicate sense of worldly honour. 
He has promised to remain in his home till he hears from 
me. He doubtless expects to be challenged, and I verily 
believe desires to die. I feel convinced that the idea of 
flight has not crossed his mind." 

" Enough ; good-night. We are now one, Gerard ; united 
by our love and honour for your wronged mother's memory, 
and by our revenge ; dissimilar only in this, that my desire 
to repair her injuries is more vehement even than yours." 
Sir Boyvill pressed his son's hand, and left him. A few 
minutes afterward, it would seem, he quitted the house. 

" Now to my task," thought Neville ; " and O, thou God, 
who watchest over the innocent, and yet gavest the inno- 
cent into the hands of the destroyer, rule thou the throb- 
bings of my heart ; that neither mad hate nor hunger for 
revenge take away my human nature, and turn me into a 
fiend '." 

He took up the manuscript ; at first the words seemed 
written in fire, but he grew calmer as ho found how far back 



234 PALKNER. 

the nai-ration went ; and curiosity succeeding to devouring 
impatience, he became attentive. 

He read and pitied. All that awoke Sir Boyvill's ire ; 
Falkner's presumption in daring to love, and his long-cher- 
ished constancy, excited his compassion. When he came 
to the account of the meeting of the forsaken lover and 
happy husband, he found, in the epithets so liberally be- 
stowed in the contemptuous description of his father, a 
cause for his augmented desire for vengeance. When he 
read that his mother herself repined, herself spoke dispar- 
agingly of her husband, he wondered at the mildness of 
Sir Boyvill's expressions with regard to her, and began to 
suspect that some strange and appalling design must be 
working in his head to produc-? this unnatural composure. 
The rest was madness, madness and misery, thus to take a 
wife and mother from her home, to gratify the insane de- 
sire to exert for one half hour a power he had lost for ever ; 
the vain hope of turning her from her duties, which at least, 
as far as her children were concerned, were the dearest 
part of herself; her terror, her incapacity of mastering her 
alarm, the night of insensibility which she passed in the hut 
— with a start, Gerard felt sure that he had seen and marked 
that very spot ; all wrought him up to the height of breath- 
less interest ; till, when he read the sad end of all, cold dew 
gathered on his brow, the tears that filled his eyes changed 
to convulsive sobbings, and, despite his manhood, he wept 
with the agony of a child. 

He ended the tale, and he thought — " Yes, there is but 
one termination to this tragedy ; I must avenge my sweet 
mother, and, by the death of Falkner, proclaim her inno- 
cence." But wherefore, it came across his mind, had his 
father called him murderer T in intention and very deed 
he was none ; why term the narrative a lie 1 He followed 
it word by word, and felt that truth was stamped in every 
line. 

The house was still ; it was two in the morning. Had 
his father retired to rest ? He had been so absorbed by his 
occupation, that he had heard no sound, knew nothing that 
might have been passing around. He remembered at last 
Sir Boyvill's good-night, and believing, as all was hushed, 
that all slept, he retij-ed to his own room. He could not 
think of Elizabeth, or of the projected duel ; he could think 
only of the narrative he had read. When in bed, unable 
to sleep, he rose, lighted his candle, and read much of it 
again : he pondered over every word in the concluding 
pages ; it was all true, he would have staked his existence 
on the accuracy of every word : was it not stamped on 
Falkner's brow, as he had seen liim but a few hours ago? 
sad, and worn with grief and suffering, but without the stain 
of concealed guilt, lofty in its very wo. It was break of 



FALKNER. 225 

day, just as Gerard was thinking of rising to find and con- 
sult with his father, that sleep crept unawares over him. 
Sleep will visit the young unbidden ; he had suffered so 
much fatigue of mind and body, that nature sought relief; 
sleep, at first disturbed, but soon profound and refreshing, 
steeped his distracted thoughts in peace, his wearied limbs 
in delightful repose. 

The morning was far advanced when he awoke, refreshed, 
ready to meet the necessities of the hour, grieved, but com- 
posed, sad, but strengthened and resolved. He inquired for 
his father, and heard, to his infinite astonishment, ^that he 
had left town : he had set out in his travelling carriage at 
four that morning; a note from him was put into Neville's 
hands. It contained few words: " Remember your engage- 
ment — that you take no steps with regard to Mr. Falkner 
till you have seen me. I am setting out for Dromore ; on 
my return, which will be speedy, I will communicate my 
wishes, to which I do not doubt you will accede." 

Neville was startled ; he guessed at once Sir Boyviirs 
aim in the sudden journey ; but was he not a fit partner in 
such an act 1 ought he not to share in the duty of rendering 
honour to his mother's grave ] He felt that he ought to be 
at his father's side, and, ordering his own chariot, set out 
with the hope of overtaking him. 

But Sir Boyvill travelled with equal speed, and was many 
miles and many hours in advance. Gerard hoped to come 
up with him when he slopped at night. But the old gentle- 
man was so eager in his pursuit, that he prosecuted his 
journey without rest. Gerard continued in the same way ; 
travelling alone, he revolved again and again all that must 
be, all that might have been. Whatever happened, he was 
divided from Elizabeth for ever. Did she love him ] he had 
scarcely questioned the return his afteclion would one day 
meet, till now that he had lost her for ever ; and like a true 
lover, earnestly desirous to preserve some property in her 
he loved, he cherished the hope that she would share his 
deep regrets, and so prove that in heart they were one. 
How pleasant were the days they had passed at Oakly; all 
his sorrows there, and his passionate desire to unveil the 
mystery of his mother's fate, how had it given an interest 
to each hour, and imparted an untold and most sweet grace 
to the loved Elizabeth, that she should sympathize with so 
much fervour and kindness. 

How strange the chance that led the daughter of the de- 
stroyer to share the feelings of the unhappy victim's son; 
yet stranger still that that destroyer had a child. Rambling 
among many tangled thoughts, Gerard started when first 
this idea suggested itself. Where was Falkner's boasted 
fidelity, on which he laid claim to compassion and pardon ; 
where his assertion, that all his soul was centred in Ali- 
K3 



226 FALKNER. 

thea ? and this child, an angel from her birth, was even then 
born to him ; he opened the writing-case which contained 
the papers, and which he carried with him ; he referred to 
them for explanation. Yes, Ehzabeth then lived, and was 
not far from him ; her hand had staid his arm, raised against 
his life. It was not enough that the phrensy of passion 
urged him to tear Alithea from her home and children, but 
even the existence of his own daughter was no restraint, 
he was vvilhng to doom her from very childhood to a part- 
nership in guilt and misery. Hitherto, despite all, and in 
despite of his resolve to meet him in mortal encounter, Ne- 
ville had pitied Falkner; but now his heart grew hard 
against him ; he began to revolve thoughts similar to those 
expressed by Sir Boyvill, and to call Elizabeth's father an 
impostor, his tale a he. He reread the manuscript with a 
new feeling of skepticism ; this time he was against the 
writer, he detected exaggeration, where, before, he had only 
found the energy of passion ; he saw an attempt to gloss 
over guilt, where, before, he had read merely the struggles 
of conscience, the innate innocence of profound feeling, 
combating with the guilt, which circumstances may impart 
to our loftiest emotions ; his very sufferings became but the 
just visitation of angry Heaven ; he was a wretch, whom 
to kill were mercy — and Elizabeth, beautiful, generous, and 
pure, was his child ! 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

That night was spent in travelling, and without any 
sleep. Neville saw the day break in melancholy guise, 
struggling with the clouds, with which a southeast wind 
veiled the sky. Nature looked bleak and desolate, even 
though she was still dressed in her summer garments. It was 
only the latter end of August, but so changeable is our cli- 
mate, that the bright festive days which he had lately en- 
joyed in Sussex were already followed by chill and dreary 
precursors of the year's dechne. Gerard reached Dromore 
at about noon. He learned that his father had arrived du- 
ring the night— he had slept a few hours, but was already 
gone out ; it appeared that he had ridden over to a neigh 
hour, Mr. Ashley ; for he had inquired if he were in the 
county, and had, with his groom, both on horseback, taken 
the road that led toward his house. 

Neville hastily took some refreshment, while he ordered 
a horse to be saddled. His heart led him to seek and view 
& spot which he had once before visited, and which seemed 



FALKNER. 227 

accurately described in Falkner's narrative. He left behind 
him the woods of Droniore, and the foldings of the green 
hills in which it was situated — he descended towards the 
barren, dreary shore — the roar of ocean soon met his 
car, and he reached the waste sands that border that mel- 
ancholy coast — he saw the line of sand-hills, which formed 
a sort of bulwark against the tide — he reached at length a 
rapid, yet shallow stream, Avhich was but about twenty 
yards wide, flowing over a rough bottom of pebbles ; the 
eye easily reached its utmost depth, it could not be more 
than two feet. Could that be the murderous, furious estuary 
in which his mother had been borne away ! he looked across 
— there stood the hut — there the moss-grown, leafless oak, 
and gathered round it was a crowd of men. His father-, and 
two or three other gentlemen on horseback, were stationed 
near — while aome labourers were throwing up the sand be- 
neath the withered trunk. When we have long thought of 
and grieved over an incident — if any outward object bring 
the image of our thoughts bodily before us, it is strange 
what an accession of emotion stirs the depths of the heart. 
For many hours Neville's mind had dwelt upon the scene 
in all its parts — the wild waste sea, dark and purple beneath 
the lowering clouds — the dreary extent of beach — the far, 
stupendous mountains, thrown up in sublime, irregular gran- 
deur, with cloud-capped peaks, and vast gulfs between — a sort 
of Cyclopean screen to the noble landscape, which they en- 
compassed with their wide majestic extent — his reflections 
had selected the smaller objects — the river, the hut, the 
monumental tree ; and it seemed as if actual vision could 
not bring it home more truly ; but when he actually beheld 
these objects, and the very motive of his coming was re- 
vealed, as it were, by the occupation of the men at work, 
his young heart, unhardened by many sufferings, sickened, 
the tears rushed into his eyes, and the words — " Oh my 
mother!"' burst from his lips. It was a spasm of uncon- 
trollable pain — an instant afterward he had mastered it, and 
guiding his horse througli the ford, with tranquil mien, 
though pale and sad, he took his station abreast with his 
father. Sir Boyvill turned as he rode up ; he manifested 
no surprise, but he looked thankful, and even triumphant, 
Gerard thought ; and the young man himself, as he con- 
templated the glazed eyes and attenuated form of his parent, 
which spoke of the weight of years, despite his sjtill upright 
carriage, and the stern expression of his face, felt that his 
right place was at his side, to render the support of his 
youthful strength and active faculties. The men went ou 
with their work in silence, nor did any speak ; the sand 
■was thrown up in heaps, the horses pawed the ground im- 
patiently, and the hollow murmurs of the neighbouring 
breakers filled every pause with sound, but no voice spoke -, 



228 FALKNER. 

or if one of the labourers had a direction to give, it was done 
in whispers. At length some harder substance opposed 
their progress, and they worked more cautiously. Mingled 
with sand they threw out pieces of dark substance like cloth 
or silk, and at length got out of the -wide long trench they 
had been opening. With one consent, though in silence, 
every one gathered nearer, and looked in — they saw a 
human skeleton. The action of the elements, which the 
sands had not been able to impede, had destroyed every 
vestige of a human frame, except those discoloured bones, 
and long tresses of dark hair, which were wound around the 
scull. A universal yet suppressed groan burst from all. 
Gerard felt inclined to leap into the grave, but the thought 
of the many eyes all gazing acted as a check ; and a second 
instinctive feeling of pious reverence induced him to un- 
fasten his large black horseman's cloak, and to cast it over 
the opening. Sir Boyvill then broke the silence : " You 
have done well, my son : let no man lift that covering, or 
in any way disturb the remains beneath. Do you know, 
my friends, who lies there ? Do you remember the night 
when Mrs. Neville was carried off I The country was raised, 
but we sought for her in vain. On that night she was mur- 
dered, and was buried here." 

A hollow murmur ran through the crowd, already aug- 
mented by several stragglers, who had heard that something 
strange was going on. All pressed forward, though but to 
see the cloak, now become an object of curiosity and interest. 
Several remembered the lady, whose mouldered remains 
were thus revealed, in the pride of youth and beauty, warm 
of heart, kind, beloved ; and this was all left of her ! these 
unseemly bones were all earth had to show of the ever 
sweet Alithea ! 

'' Mr. Ashley kindly assists me," continued Sir Boyvill ; 
" we are both magistrates. The coroner is already sent for, 
a jury will be summoned ; when that duly is performed, the 
remains of my unfortunate, much-wronged wife will be fitly 
interred. These ceremonies are necessary for the punish- 
ment of the murderer. We know him, he cannot escape ; 
and you, every one of you, will rejoice in that vengeance 
which will be mine at last." 

Execrations against the villain burst from every lip; yet 
even then each eye turned from old Sir Boyvill, whose vin- 
dictive nature had been showed before towards the hapless 
victim herself, to the young man, the son, whose grief and 
pious zeal had been the theme of many a gossip's story, and 
who now, pale and mute as he was, showed, in his intent 
and wo-struck gaze, more true touch of natural sorrow than 
Sir Boyvill's wordy harangue could denote. 

" We must appoint constables to guard this place," said 
Sir Boj^ill. 



CALKNER. S89 

Mr. Ashley assented ; the proper arrangements were 

made ; the curious were to be kept off, and two servants 

^ from Dromore were added to the constables ; tlien the gen- 

. tlenien rode off. Neville, bewildered, desirous to stay to 

look once again on what had been his mother, yet averse to 

- the vulgar gaze, followed them at a slower pace, till Mr. 

- Ashley, taking leave of Sir Boyvill, rode away, and he per- 
; ceived that his father was waiting for him, and that he must 

join him. 

"Thank you, my son," said Sir Boyvill, "for your zeal 
1 and timely arrival. I expected it of you. We are one 
now ; one to honour your mother; one in our revenge. You 
will not this lime refuse your evidence." 

. " Do you then believe that Mr. Falkner is actually a mur- 
derer V cried Neville. 

" Let the laws of his country decide on that question," 
replied Sir Boyvill, with a sneering laugh. " I bring for- 
ward the facts only — you do the satne ; let the laws of his 
country and a jury of his equals acquit or condemn him." 

"Your design, then, is to bring him to a trial!" asked 
Gerard. " I should have thought that the publicity — " 

" I design," cried Sir Boyvill, with uncontrolled passion, 
" to bring him to a fate more miserable than his victim's ; 
and I thank all-seeing Heaven, which places such ample re- 
venge in my hands. He will die by the hands of the hang- 
man, and I shall be satisfied." 

There was something horrible in the old man's look and 
voice ; he gloated on the foul disgrace about to be heaped 
on his enemy. The chivalrous notions of Gerard, a duel 
between the destroyer and liis victim's son, was a paltry, 
trifling vengeance, compared with the ignominy he contem- 
plated. " Was not the accusation against your mother 
loud," continued Sir Boyvill, " public, universal ? Did not 
the assembled parliament pronounce upon her guilt, and 
decree her shame ? And shall her exculpation be hushed 
up and private ? I court publicity. A less august tribunal, 
but one whose decisions are no less widely circulated, shall 
proclaim her innocence. This idea alone would decide my 
course, if I could so far unman my soul as to forget that 
vengeance is due. Let it decide yours, if so much milk still 
mingle with your blood that it sicken at the thought of jus- 
tice against a felon." 

Transported by rage. Sir Boyvill soiight for words bitter 
and venomous enough to convey his meaning; and Neville 
discerned at once how much he was incensed by the lan- 
guage used with regard to him in Falkner's manuscript. 
Wounded vanity sought to ape injured feeUngs ; in such 
petty, selfish passions, Gerard could take no share, and he 
observed : " l\Ir. Falkner is a gentleman. I confess that liis 
narration has won belief from me. His crime, dressed in 
20 



230 FALKNER. 

his own words, is frightful enough ; and heavily, if it be left 
to me, shall I visit it ; but the plan you adopt is too discord- 
ant with the habits of persons of our rank of life, for me 
to view it without aversion. There is another which I pre- 
fer adopting." 

" You mean," replied Sir Boyvill, " that you would chal- 
lenge him — risk your life on the chance of taking his. Par- 
don me ; I can by no means acquiesce in the propriety of 
such an act. I look on the wrongs he has done us as de- 
priving him of the right to be treated with courtesy ; nor 
do I wish him to add the death of my only son to the list 
of the injuries I have sustained." 

The old man paused : his lip quivered — his voice dropped. 
Neville fancied that tenderness of feeling caused these indi- 
cations ; he was deceived ; his father continued : " 1 am 
endeavouring so far to command myself as to speak with 
moderation. It is difficult to find words to express impla- 
cable hatred, so let that go by ; and let us talk, since you 
can, and believe doubtless that I ought, calmly and reason- 
ably. You would challenge this villain, this gentleman, as 
you name him. You would put your life on a par with his. 
He murdered your mother, and, to repay me, you would die 
by the same hand. 

" If you speak the truth — if he possess a spark of those 
feelings which, as a soldier, you have a right to believe 
may animate him, do you think that he would return your 
firel He raves about remorse in that tissue of infamous 
falsehoods which you put into my hands ; if he be human, 
he must have some touch of that; and he could not, if he 
would, raise his weapon against the child of poor Ahthea. 
He will therefore refuse to meet you, or, meeting you, re- 
fuse to fire ; and either it will end in a farce for the amuse- 
ment of the world, or you will shoot a defenceless man. I 
do not see the mercy of this proceeding." 

" Of that, sir," said Neville, " we must take our chance." 

" I will take no chance," cried his father. " My unfortu- 
nate wife was borne off forcibly from her home ; you can 
bear witness to that. Two men carried her away, and no 
tidings ever again reached us of her fate. And now one of 
these men, the arch criminal, chooses to gloss over these 
circumstances, events, as pleases him ; tells his own story, 
giving it such graces of style as may dupe the inexperienced, 
and we are to rest satisfied, and say. It is so. The absurd- 
ity of such conduct would mark us as madmen. Enough of 
this ; I have reasoned with you as if the decision lay with 
me; when, in fact, I have no voice on the subject. It is 
out of my hands ; I have made it over to the law, and we 
can but stand by and view its course. I believe, and before 
Heaven and your country you must assert the same, that 
the remains we have uncovered are all that is left us of your 



FALKNER. 231 

lost mother; the clandestine burial at once declares the 
guilt of murder; such must be the opinion of impartial 
judges, if I mistake not. I can interfere no further. The 
truth will be sifted by three juries; this is no hole-and-cor- 
ner vengeance ; let our enemy escape, in God's name, if 
they acquit him ; but, if he be guilty, then let him die, as I 
believe he will, a felon's death." 

Sir Boyvill looked on his son with glassy eyes, but a 
sneering lip, that spoke of the cruel triumph he desired. 
" There is Ravenglass," he added, " there the coroner is 
summoned — there the court meets. We go to give our 
deposition. We shall not lie, nor pervert facts ; we tell 
who it was revealed to us your mother's unknown grave ; 
it rests with them to decide whether he. who by his own 
avowal placed her therein, has not the crime of murder on 
his soul." 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Sir Boyvill quickened his pace ; Neville followed. He 
was still the same being who in his youth had been driven 
to the verge of insanity by the despotism of his father. 
His free and feeling heart revolted from arbitrary com- 
mands and selfishness. It was not only that his thoughts 
flew back, wounded and sore, to Elizabeth, and figured her 
agony, but he detested the fierce and vulgar revenge of his 
father. It is true that he had seen Falkner, and in the no- 
ble though tarnished grandeur of his countenance he had 
read the truth of the sad tale he related ; and he could not 
treat him with the contempt Sir Boyvill evinced; to whom 
he was an image of the mind — imseen, unfelt. And then 
Falkner had loved his mother; nay, more, she as a sister 
had loved him ; and faulty and cruel as had been his return 
for her kindness, he, through her, was endued with sacred- 
ness in his eyes. 

To oppose these softening feelings came a sort of rage 
that Elizabeth was his child ; that through him a barrier 
was raised to separate him from the chosen friend of his 
heart, the one sweet angel who had first whispered peace to 
his sonl. The struggle was violent— he did not see how he 
could refuse his evidence at the inquest already summoned; 
in every way his motives might be misunderstood, and his 
mother's fame might suffer. This idea became the victor 
— he would do all that he was called upon to do — to excul- 
pate her ; the rest he must leave to the mysterious guidance 
of Providence, 



29(51 fALKNER. 

He arrived at the poverty-stricken town of Ravenglass — •- 
the legal authorities were assembled — and while prelimina- 
ries were being arranged, he was addressed by Sir Boyvill's 
solicitor, who asked him to relate what he knew, that his 
legal knowledge might assist in framing his evidence brief- 
ly and conclusively. Neville recounted his story simply, 
confining himself, as much as possible, to the bare outline 
of the facts. The man of law was evidently struck by the 
new turn he gave to the tale ; for Sir Boyvill had unhesita- 
tingly accused Falkner of murder. " This Falkner," he 
said, " had concealed himself for the space of thirteen 
years, till his accomplice Osborne was discovered — and till 
he heard of Gerard's perseverance in sifting the truth — then, 
fearful the tale might be disclosed in America, he came for- 
ward with his own narrative, which glossed over the chief 
crime, and yet, by revealing the burial-place of his victim, 
at once demonstrated the truth of the present accusation. 
It is impossible that the facts could have occurred as he 
represents them, plausible as his account is. Could a wo- 
man as timid as Alithea have rushed on certain death, as 
he describes'? Why should she have crossed the stream in 
its fury ] A bare half mile would have carried her to a 
cottage where she had been safe from Falkner's pursuit. 
What lady in a well-known country, where every face she 
met must prove a friend, but would not have betaken her- 
self to the nearest village, instead of to an estuary renown- 
ed for danger. The very wetting her feet in a brook had 
terrified her — never could she have encountered the roar of 
waves sufficient to overwhelm and destroy her." 

Such were the observations of Sir Boyvill ; and though 
Gerard, by his simple assertion that he believed Falkner's 
tale, somewhat staggered the solicitor, yet he could not 
banish his notion that a trial was the inevitable and best 
mode of bringing the truth to light. The jury were now 
met, and Sir Boyvill gave such a turn to his evidence as at 
once impressed them unfavourably towards the accused. 
In melancholy procession tliey visited poor Alithea's grave. 
A crowd of country people were collected about it — they 
did not dare touch the cloak, but gazed on it with curiosity 
and grief. Many remembered Mrs. Neville, and their rude 
exclamations showed how deeply they felt her injuries. 
" When I was ill," said an old woman, " she gave me med- 
icine with her own hand." " When my son .lames was lost 
at sea," said another, " she came to comfort me, and brought 
young Master Gferard — and cried, bless her ! When she 
saw me take on — rich and grand as she was, she cried for 
poor .Tames— and that she should be there now !" " My 
dear mistress," cried another, "never did she speak a harsh 
word to me — but for her, I could not have married — if she 
had lived, I had never known sorrow !" 



PALKNER. 238 

Execrations against the murderer followed these laments. 
The arrival of the jury caused a universal murmur — the 
crowd was driven bacii — the cloak lifted from the grave — 
the men looked in ; the scull, bound by her long hair — hair 
whose colour and luxuriance many remembered — attracted 
peculiar observation; the women, as they saw it, wept 
aloud — fragments of her dress were examined, which yet 
retained a sort of identity, as silk or muslin — though stain- 
ed and colourless. As farther proof, among the bones were 
found a few ornaments — among them, on the skeleton 
hand, was her wedding-ring, with two others — both of 
which were sworn to by Sir Boyvill as belonging to his 
wife. No doubt could exist concerning the identity of the 
remains ; it was sacrilege to gaze on them a moment longer 
than was necessary — while each beholder, as they contem- 
plated so much beauty and excellence reduced to a small 
heap of bones, abhorrent to the eye, imbibed a heartfelt les- 
son ou the nothingness of life. Stout-hearted men wept — 
and each bosom glowed with hatred agaiust her destroyer. 

After a few moments the cloak was again extended — the 
crowd pressed nearer — the jury retired, and returned to Ra- 
venglass. Neville's evidence was only necessary to prove 
the name and residence of the assassin — there was no hes- 
itation about the verdict. That of wilful murder against 
Falkner was unhesitatingly pronounced — a warrant issued 
for his apprehensiou, and proper officers despatched to exe- 
cute it. 

The moment that the verdict was delivered. Sir Boyvill 
and his son rode back to Dromore. Mr. Ashley and the so- 
licitor accompanied them — and all the ordinary mechanism 
of life, which intrudes so often for our good, so to justle to- 
gether discordant characters and wear off poignant impres- 
sions, now forced Neville, who was desirous to give himself 
up to meditation, to abide for several hours in the society 
of these gentlemen. There was a dinner to be eaten — Mr. 
Ashley partook of it, and Gerard felt that his absence would 
be indecorous. After dinner he was put to a trial— more 
severe to a sensitive, imagiuative mind than any sharp 
strokes of commonplace adversity. He was minutely ques- 
tioned as to the extent of his acquaintance with Falkner — 
how he came to form it — how often he had seen him — and 
what had drawn confession from him they named the crim- 
inal. These inquiries had been easily answered, but that 
the name of Elizabeth must be introduced — and, as he ex- 
pected, at the mention of a daughter, a world of inquiry 
followed — and coarse remarks fell from his father's lips — 
which harrowed up his soul ; while he felt that he had no 
exculpation to offer, nor any explanation that might take 
from her the name and association of the child of a mur- 
derer. 



234 FALKNER. 

As soon as he could he burst away. He rushed into the 
open air, and hurried to the spot where he could best com- 
bat with and purify the rebellious emotions of his heart — 
none but the men placed as watch were near his mother's 
grave. Seeing the young squire, they retreated — and he 
who had come on foot at such quick pace that he scarcely 
felt the ground he trod, threw himself on the sands, grate- 
ful to find himself alone with nature. The moon was hur- 
rying on among the clouds — now bright in the clear ether, 
now darkened by heavy masses — and the mirroring ocean 
was sometimes alive with sparkling silver, now veiled and 
dim, so that you could hear, but not see, the breaking of the 
surge. 

An eloquent author has said, in contempt of such a being : 
"Try to conceive a man without the ideas of God and eter- 
nity ; of the good, the true, the beautiful, and the infinite." 
Neville was certainly not such. There was poetry in his 
ver)' essence ; and enthusiasm for the ideal of the excellent 
gave his character a peculiar charm, to any one equally ex- 
alted and refined. His mother's decaymg form lay beneath 
the sands on which he was stretched, death was there in 
its most hideous form ; beamy, and even form had deserted 
that frame-work which once was tlie dear being, whose ca- 
resses, so warm and fond, it yet often thrilled him to re- 
member. He had demanded from Heaven the revelation 
of his mother's fate, here he found it, here in the narrow 
grave lay the evidence of her virtues a)id her death ; did 
he thank Heaven ? even while he did, he felt with bitter- 
ness that the granting of his prayer was inextricably linked 
with the ruin of a being, as good and fair as she whose 
honour he had so earnestly desired to vindicate. 

He thought of all the sordid, vulgar, but heart-thrilling 
misery which by his means was brought on Elizabeth ; and 
he sought his heart for excuses for the success for which 
he had pined. They came ready; no desire of vulgar ven- 
geance had been his; his motives had been exalted, his con- 
duct straightforward. The divine stamp on woman is her 
maternal character — it was to prove that his idolized mother 
had not deserted the first and most sacred duty in the 
world that had urged him — and he could not foresee that 
the innocent would suffer through his inquiries. The crime 
must fall on its first promoter — on Falkner's head must be 
heaped the consequences of his act ; all else were guiltless. 
These reflections, however, only served to cheat his wound 
of its pain for a time — again other thoughts recurred, the 
realities, the squalid realities of the scene, in which she, 
miserable, was about to take a part. The thief-takers and 
the gyves — the prison, and the public ignominious trial — 
Falkner was to be subjected to all these indignities, and he 
well knew that his daughter would not leave his side. 



FALKNER. S3S 

** And I, her son, the offspring of these sainted bones — 
placed here by him — how can I draw near his child ! God 
have mercy on her, for man will have none !" 

Still he could not be satisfied. " Surely," he thought, 
"something can be done, and something I will do. Already 
men are gone, who are to tear him from his home, and to 
deliver him up to all those vile contrivances devised for 
the coercion of the lowest of mankind — she will accompany 
him, while I must remain here. To-morrow these re- 
mains will be conveyed to our house — on the following day 
they are to be interred in the family vault, and I must be 
present — I am tied, forced to inaction — the privilege of free 
action taken from me." 

Hope was awakened, however, as he pursued these 
thoughts, and recollected the generous, kindly disposition 
of Lady Cecil, and her attachment to her young friend. 
He determined to write to her. He felt assured that she 
would do all in her power to alleviate Elizabeth's sufferings 
— what she could do, he did not well understand — but it 
was a relief to him to take some step for the benefit of the 
devoted daughter. Bitterly as he thought of these things, 
did he regret that he had ever seen Elizabeth'? So com- 
phcated was the web of event, that he knew not how to 
wish any event to have occurred differently ; except that 
he had not trusted to the hollow pretences of his father. 
He saw at once how the generous and petty-minded .^an 
never coalesce — he ought to have acted for himself, by him- 
self ; and miserable as in any case the end must have been, 
he felt that his own open, honourable revenge would have 
been less cruel in its effects than the malicious pursuit of 
his vindictive father. 



CHAPTER XXXVn. 

There is an impatient spirit in the young, that will not 
suffer them to take into consideration the pauses that occur 
between events. That which they do not see move, they 
beUeve to be stationary. Falkner was surprised by the 
silence of several days on the part of Neville ; but he did 
not the less expect and prepare for the time, when he 
should be called upon to render an account for the Avrong 
he had done. EUzabeth, on the contrary, deemed that the 
scene was closed, the curtain fallen. What more could 
arise'? Neville had obtained assurance of the innocence 
and miserable end of his mother. In some manner this 
would be declared to the world ; but the echo of such a 



236 PALKNER. 

voice would not penetrate the solitude in which she and her 
guardian were hereafter to live. Silence and exclusion 
v^ere the signal aii(J seal of discovered guilt — other punish- 
ment she did not expect. The name of Falkner had be- 
come abhorrent to all who bore any relationship to the in- 
jured AliUiea. She had bid an eternal adieu to the domes- 
tic circle at Oakly — to the kind and frank-hearted Lady 
Cecil— and, with her, to Gerard. His mind, fraught with a 
thousand virtues — his heart, whose sensibility had awoke 
her tenderness, were shut irrevocably against her. 

Did she love Gerard ] This question never entered her own 
mind. She felt, but did not reason on, her emotions. Eliza- 
beth was formed to be alive to the better part of love. Her 
enthusiasm gave ideality, her atfectionate disposition warmth, 
to all her feelings. She loved Falkner, and that with so 
much truth and delicacy, yet fervour of passion, that scarcely 
could her virgin heart conceive a power more absolute, a tie 
more endearmg, than the gratitude she had vowed to him ; 
yet she intimately felt the diflerence that existed between 
her deep-rooted attachment for him she named and looked 
on as her father, and the spnng of playful, happy, absorbing 
emotions that animated her intercourse with Neville. To 
the one she dedicated her life and services; she watched 
him as a mother may a child ; a smile or cheerful tone of 
voice was warmth and gladness to her anxious bosom, and 
she wept over his misfortunes with the truest grief. 

But there was more of the genuine attachment of mind 
for mind in her sentiment for Neville. Falkner was gloomy 
and self-absorbed. Elizabeth might grieve for, but she 
found it impossible to comfort him. With Gerard it was 
far otherwise. Elizabeth had opened in his soul an un- 
known spring of sympathy, to relieve the melancholy which 
had hitherto overwhelmed him. With her he gave way 
freely to the impulses of a heart which longed to mingle 
its hitherto checked stream of feeling with other and sweeter 
waters. In every way he excited her admiration as well 
as kindness. The poetry of his nature suggested expres- 
sions and ideas at once varied and fascinating. He led 
her to new and delightful studies, by unfolding to her the 
pages of the poets of her native country, with which she 
was little conversant. Except Shakspeare and Milton, she 
knew noihing of English poetry. The volumes of Chaucer 
and Spenser, of ancient date; of Pope, Gray, and Burns; 
and, in addition, the writings of a younger, but divine race 
of poets, were all opened to her by him. In music, also, 
he became her teacher. She was a fine musician of the 
German school. He introduced her to the simpler graces 
of song ; and brought her the melodies of Moore, so " mar- 
ried to immortal verse," that they can only be thought of 
conjointly. Oh, the happy days of Oakly ! How liad each 



FALKNER. 29T 

succeeding hour been gilded by the pleasures of a nascent 
passion, of the existence of which she had never before 
dreamed — and these were fled for ever ! It was impossible 
to feel assured of so sad a truth, and not to weep over the 
miserable blight. Elizabeth commanded herself to appear 
cheerful, but sadness crept over her solitary hours. She 
felt that the world had grown, from being a copy of para- 
dise, into a land^of labour and disappointment; where self- 
approbation was to be gained through self-sacrifice ; and 
duty and happiness became separate, instead of united ob- 
jects at which to aim. 

From such thoughts she took refuge in the society of 
Falkner. She loved him so truly, that she forgot her per- 
sonal regrets — she forgot even Neville when with him. Her 
affection for her benefactor was not a stagnant pool, mantled 
over by memories existing in the depths of her soul, but 
giving no outward sign ; it was a fresh spring of everflow- 
ing love — it was redundant with all the better portion of our 
nature — gratitude, admiration, and pity for ever fed it, as 
from a perennial fountain. 

It was on a day, the fifth after the disclosure of Falkner, 
that she had been taking her accustomed ride, and, as she 
rode, given herself up to those reveries — now enthusiastic, 
now drooping and mournful — that sprung from her singular 
and painful position. She returned home, eager to forget in 
Falkner's society many a rebel thought, and to drive away 
the image of her younger friend, by gazing on the wasted, 
sinking form of her benefactor, in whose singulai«ly noble 
countenance she ever found new cause to devote her for- 
tunes and her heart. To say that he was " not less than 
archangel ruined," is not to express the peculiar interest of 
Falkner's appearance. Thus had he seemed, perhaps, thir- 
teen years before at Treby; but gentle and kindly senti- 
ments, the softening intercourse of Elizabeth, the improve- 
ment of his intellect, and the command he had exercised 
over the denwnstration of passion, had moulded his face 
into an expression of benevolence and sweetness, joined to 
melancholy thoughtfulness ; an abstracted, but not sul- 
len seriousness, that rendered it interesting to every be- 
holder. Since his confession to Neville, since the die was 
cast, and he had delivered himself up to his fate to atone 
for his victim, something more was added; exalted resolu- 
tion and serene lofty composure had replaced his usual 
sadness ; and the passions of his soul, which had before de- 
formed his handsome lineaments, now animated them with 
a beauty of mind which struck Elizabeth at once with ten- 
derness and admiration. 

Now, longing to behold, to contemplate this dear face, 
and to listen to a voice that always charmed her out of 
herself, and made her forget her sorrows — she w^ disap* 



238 FALKNER. 

pointed to find his usual sitting-room empty— it appeared 
even as if the furniture had been thrown into disorder ; there 
were marks of several dirty feet upon the carpet ; on the 
half-written letter that lay on the desk the pen had hastily 
been thrown, blotting it. Elizabeth wondered a little, but 
the emotion was passing away, when the head servant 
came into the room, and informed her that his master had 
gone out, and would not return that night. 

" Not to-night !" exclaimed Elizabeth ; '"' what has hap- 
pened 1 who have been here 1" 
" Two men, miss." 
" Men ! gentlemen V 
" No, miss, not gentlemen." 
" And my father went away with them V 
"Yes, miss," replied the man, "he did indeed. He would 
not take the carriage ; he went in a hired post-chaise. He 
ordered me to tell you, miss, that he would write directly, 
and let you know when you might expect him." 

" Strange, very strange is this !" thought Elizabeth. She 
did not know why she should be disturbed, but disquiet in- 
vaded her mind ; she felt abandoned and forlorn, and, as the 
shades of evening gathered round, even desolate. She 
walked from room to room, she looked from the window, the 
air was chill, and from the east, yet she repaired to the gar- 
den ; she felt restless and miserable ; what could the event 
be that took Falkneraway! .She pondered vainly. The 
most probable conjecture was, that he obeyed some sum- 
mons from her own relations. At length one idea rushed 
into her mind, and she returned to the house, and rang for 
the servant. Falkner's wandering life had prevented his 
having any servant of long-tried fidelity about him — but this 
man was good-hearted and respectable — he felt for his 
young mistress, and consulted Avith her maid as to the 
course they should take under the present painful circum- 
stances ; and had concluded that they should preserve si- 
lence as to what had occurred, leaving her to learn it from 
their master's expected letter. Yet the secret was in some 
danger, when, fixing her eyes on him, Elizabeth said, " Tell 
me truly, have you no guess what this business is that has 
taken your master away !" 

The man looked confused ; but, like many persons not 
practised in the art of cross-questioning, Elizabeth balked 
herself, by adding another inquiry before the first was an- 
swered ; saying with a faltering voice, " Are you sure, 
Thompson, that it was not a challenge — a duel ?" 

The domestic's face cleared up: "Quite certain, miss, it 
was no duel — it could not be — the men were not gentle- 
men." 

"Then," thought Elizabeth, as she dismissed the man, "I 
will no longer torment myself. It is evidently some affair 



FALKNER. 239 

of mere business that has called him away. I shall learn 
all to-morrow." 

Yet the morrow and the next day came, and Falkner 
neither wrote nor returned. Like all persons who deter- 
mine to conjecture no more, Elizabeth's whole time was 
spent in endeavouring to divine the cause of his prolonged 
absence and strange silence. Had any comnnmication from 
Neville occasioned his departure I was he sent for to point out 
his victim's grave ? That idea carried some probability with 
it; and Elizabeth's thoughts flew fast to picture the solitary 
shore, and the sad receptacle of beauty and love. Would 
Falkner and Neville meet at such an hour? without a clew 
to guide her, she wandered for ever in a maze of thought, 
and each hour added to her disquietude. She had not gone 
beyond the garden for several days, she was fearful of being 
absent when anything might arise ; but nothing occurred, 
and the mystery became more tantalizing and profound. 

On the third day she could endure the suspense no longer; 
she ordered horses to be put to the carriage, and told the 
servant of her intention to drive into town, and to call on 
Falkner's solicitor, to learn if he had any tidings; that he 
was ill she felt assured — where and how ] away from her, 
perhaps deserted by all the world : the idea of his sick-bed 
became intolerably painful ; she blamed herself for her 
inaction; she resolved not to rest till she saw her father 
again. 

Thompson knew not what to say ; he hesitated, begged 
her not to go ; the truth hovered on his lips, yet he feared 
to give it utterance. Elizabeth saw his confusion ; it gave 
birth to a thousand fears, and she exclaimed, " What fright- 
ful event are you concealing 1 Tell me at once. Great 
God ! why this silence 1 Is my father dead V' 

" No, indeed, miss," said the man, "but my master is not 
in London, he is a long way off. I heard he was taken to 
Carlisle." 

" Taken to Carlisle ! Why taken ? What do you mean V 

"There was a charge against him, miss," Thompson 
continued, hesitating at every word, " the men who came — 
they apprehended him for murder." 

"Murder!" echoed his auditress; " then they fought ! Ge- 
rard is killed !" 

The agony of her look made Thompson more explicit. 
" It was no duel," he said, '" it was done many years ago ; 
it was a lady who was murdered, a Mrs. or Lady Neville." 

Elizabeth smiled — a painful, yet a genuine smile; so glad 
was she to have her worst fears removed, so futile did the 
accusation appear; the smile passed away, as she thought 
of the ignominy, the disgraceful realities of such a process 
— of Falkner torn from his home, imprisoned, a mark for in- 
famy. Weak minds are stumied by a blow like this, while 



840 FALKNER. 

the stronger rise to the level of the exigency, and grow 
calm from the very call made upon their courage. Eliza- 
beth might weep to remember past or anticipated misfor- 
tunes, but she was always calm when called upon to decide 
and act ; her form seemed to dilate, her eyes flashed with a 
living fire, her whole countenance beamed with lofty and 
proud confidence in herself. " Why did you not tell me 
tliis before ■?" she exclaimed. "What madness possessed 
you to keep me in ignorance ! How much time has been 
lost ! Order the horses ! I must begone at once, and join 
my father." 

" He is in jail, miss," said Thompson. " I beg your 
pardon, but you liad better see some friend before you go." 

" I must decide upon that," repUed Elizabeth. " Let 
there be no delay on your part, you have caused too much. 
But the bell rings ; did 1 not hear wheels ? perhaps he is re- 
turned." She rushea to the outer door; she believed that 
it was her father returned ; the garden gate opened — two 
ladies entered ; one was Lady Cecil. In a moment Eliza- 
beth felt herself embraced by her warm-hearted friend; she 
burst into tears. "This is kind, more than kind!" she ex- 
claimed ; " and you bring good news, do you not i My fa- 
ther is liberated, and all is again well!" 



CHAPTER XXXVHL 

The family of Raby must be considered collectively, as 
each member united in one feeling, and acted on one prin- 
ciple. They were Catholics, and never forgot it. They 
were not bent on proselytism ; on the contrary, they 
rather shunned admitting strangers into their circle : but 
they never ceased to remember that they belonged to the 
ancient faith of the land, and looked upon their fidelity to 
the tenets of their ancestors as a privilege, and a distinc- 
tion far more honourable than a patent of nobility. Sur- 
rounded by Protestants, and consequently, as they believed, 
by enemies, it was the aim of their existence to keep their 
honour unsullied ; and that each member of the family 
should act for the good and glory of the whole, unmindful 
of private interests and individual aflections. The result 
of such a system may be divined. The pleasures of medi- 
ocrity — toiling naerit — the happy home — the clieerful family 
union, where smiles glitter brighter than gold ; all these 
were unknown or despised. Young hearts were pitilessly 
crushed ; young hopes blighted without remorse. The 
daughters were doomed, for the most part, to the cloister ; 



FALKNER. 241 

the sons to foreign service. This, indeed, was not to be 
attributed entirely to the family failing — a few years ago, 
Knglish Catholics were barred out from every road to emol- 
ument and distinction in their native country. 

Edwin Raby had thus been sacrificed. His enlightened 
mind disdained the tranunels thrown over it ; but his apos- 
tacy doomed him to become an outcast. He had previous- 
ly been the favourite and hope of his parents ; from the 
moment that he renounced his religion he became the op- 
probrium. His name was never mentioned ; and his death 
hailed as a piece of good fortune, that freed his family from 
a living disgrace. The only person among them who re- 
gretted him was the wife of his eldest brother ; she had 
appreciated his talents and virtues, and had entertained a 
sincere friendship for him; but even she renounced him. 
Her heart, naturally warm and noble, was narrowed by pre- 
judice ; but while she acted in conformity with the family 
principle, she suffered severely from the shock thus given 
to her better feelings. When Edwin died, her eyes were 
a little opened ; she began to suspect that human life and 
human suffering deserved more regard than articles of be- 
lief The "late remorse of love" was awakened, and she 
never wholly forgot the impression. She had not been 
consulted concerning, she new nothing of, his widow and 
orphan child. Young at that time, the weight of authority 
pressed also on her, and she had been bred to submission. 
There was a latent energy, however, in her character that 
developed itself as she grew older. Her husband died, and 
her consequence increased in old Oswi Raby's eyes. By 
degrees her authority became paramount ; it was greatly 
regulated by the prejudices and systems cherished by the 
family, as far as regarded the world in general ; but it was 
softened in her own circle by the influence of the affec- 
tions. Her daughters were educated at home — not one 
was destined for the cloister. Her only son was brought 
up at Eton ; the privileges granted of late years to the 
Cathohcs made her entertain the belief, that it was no longer 
necessary to preserve the old defences and fortificntions 
which intolerance had forced its victims to institute ; still 
pride — pride of rehgion, pride of family, pride in an unblem- 
ished name, were too deeply rooted, too carefully nurtured, 
not to form an integral part of her character. 

When a letter from her fatlier-in-law revealed to her the 
existence of Ehzabeth, her heart warmed towards the or- 
phan and deserted daughter of Edwin. She felt all the re- 
pentance which duties neglected bring on a well-regulated 
mind — her pride revolted at the idea that a daughter of the 
nouse of Raby was dependant on the beneficence of a 
stranger — she resolved that no time should be lost in claim- 
ing and receiving her, even while she trejaabled to ttiiuk of 
21 L 



242 FALKNER. 

how, brought up as an alien, she might prove rather a 
burden than an acquisition. She liad written to make in- 
quiries as to her niece's abode. She heard that she was on 
a visit at Lady Cecil's at Hastings — iMrs. Raby was at 
Tunbridge — she instantly ordered horses, and proceeded to 
Oakly. 

On the morning of her visit, Lady Cecil had received a 
letter from Gerard : it was incoherent, and had been written 
by snatches in the carriage on his way to Dromore. Its 
first words proclaimed his mother's innocence, and the ac- 
knowledgment of her wrongs by Sir Boyvill himself. As 
he went on, his pen lingered — he trembled to write the 
words, " Our friend, our Elizabeth, is the daughter of the 
destroyer." It was unnatural, it was impossible — the very 
thought added acrimony to his detestation of Falkner — it 
prevented the compassion iiis generous nature would other- 
wise have afforded, and yet roused every wish to spare 
him, as much as he might be spared, for his heroic daugh- 
ter's sake. He felt deceived, trepanned, doomed. In after- 
life we are wiHing to compromise with fate — to take the 
good with the bad — and are satisfied if we can at all lighten 
the burden of life. In youth we aim at completeness and 
perfection. Ardent and single-minded, Neville disdained 
prejudices ; and his impulse was, to separLitc the idea of 
father and daughter, and to cherish Elizabeth as a being to- 
tally distinct from her parentage. But she would not yield 
to this delusion — she would cling to her father — and if he 
died by his hand, he would for ever become an object of de- 
testation. Well has Alfieri said, " There is no struggle so 
vehement as when an upright but passionate heart is divided 
between inclination and duty." Neville's soul was set upon 
honour and well-doing ; never before had he found the exe- 
cution of the dictates of his conscience so full of bitterness 
and impatience. Something of these feelings betrayed 
themselves in his letter. " We have lost Ehzabeth," he 
wrote ; "for ever lost her! Is there no help for this ? No 
help for her ? None ! She clings to the destroyer's side, 
and shares his miserable fate — lost to happiness — to the in- 
nocence and sunshine of life. She will live a victim and 
die a martyr to her duties ; and she is lost to us for ever !" 

Lady Cecil read again and again — she wondered — she 
grieved — she uttered impatient reproaches against Gerard for 
having sought the truth ; and yet her heart was with him, 
and she rejoiced in the acknowledged innocence of Alithea. 
She thought of Elizabeth with the deepest grief — had they 
never met — had she and Gerard never seen each other, 
neither had loved, and half this wo had been spared. How 
strange and devious are the ways of fate — how difficult 
to resign one's self to its mysterious and destructive course! 
Naturally serene, though vivacious — kind-hearted, but not 



FALKNER. 243 

informed with trembling insensibility — yet so struck was 
Lady Cecil by the prospects of misery for those she best 
loved, that she wept bitterly, and wrung her hands in im- 
patient, impotent despair. At this moment Mrs. Raby was 
announced. 

Mrs. Raby had something of the tragedy queen in her ap- 
pearance. She was tall and dignified in person. Her 
black full eyes were melancholy — her brow shadowing them 
over had a world of thought and feeling in its sculpture-like 
lines. The lower part of her face harmonized, though 
something of pride lurked about her beautiful mouth — her 
voice was melodious, but deep-toned. Her manners had 
not the ease of the well-bred Lady Cecil — something of 
the outcast was imprinted upon them, which imparted con- 
sciousness, reserve, and alternate timidity and haughtiness. 
There was nothing embarrassed, however, in her mien, 
and she asked at once for Elizabeth with obvious impa- 
tience. She heard that she was gone with regret. The 
praises Lady Cecil almost involuntarily showered on her latfe 
guest at once dissipated this feeling; and caused her, with 
all the frankness natural to her, to unfold at once the object 
of her visit — the parentage of the orphan — the discovery of 
her niece. Lady Cecil clasped her hands in a transport, 
which was not all joy. There was so much of wonder, 
almost of disbelief, at the strange tale — had a fairy's wand 
operated the change, it had not been more magical in her 
eyes. Heaven's ways were vindicated — all of evil vanished 
from the scene — her friend snatched from ignominy and 
crime, to be shrined for ever in their hearts and love. 

She poured out these feelings impetuously. Mrs. Raby 
was well acquainted with Alithea's story, and was familiar 
with Gerard Neville's conduct ; all that she now heard was 
strange indeed. She did not imbibe any of Lady Cecil's 
gladness, but much of her eagerness. It became of para- 
mount importance in her mind to break at once the link be- 
tween Elizabeth and her guardian, before the story gained 
pubhcity, and the name of Raby became mingled in a tale 
of horror and crime, which, to the peculiar tone of Mrs. 
Raby's mind, was singularly odious and disgraceful. No 
time must be lost — Elizabeth must be claimed — must at 
once leave the guilty and tainted one, while yet her name 
received no infection ; or she would be disowned for ever 
by her father's family. When Lady Cecil learned Mrs. Ra- 
by's intention of proceeding to London to see her niece, 
she resolved to go also, to act as mediator, and to soften 
the style of the demands made, even while she persuaded 
Elizabeth to submit to them. She expressed her intention, 
and the ladies agreed to travel together. Both were de- 
sirous of further communication. Lady Cecil wished to in- 
terest Mrs, Raby still' more deeply in heajpatchless kins- 
V 8 



244 FALKNER. 

woman's splendid qualities of heart and mind ; while Mrs. 
Raby felt that her conduct must be founded on the character 
and worth of her niece ; even while she was more con- 
vinced, at every minute, that no half measures would be 
permitted by Oswi Raby, and others of their family and 
connexion, and that Elizabeth's welfare depended on her 
breaking away entirely from her present position, and 
throwing herself unreservedly upon the kindness and affec- 
tion of her father's relations. 

Strange tidings awaited their arrival in London, and added 
to the eagerness of both. The proceedings of Sir Boyvill, 
the accusation of Faikner, and his actual arrest, with ail its 
consequent disgrace, made each fear that it was too late to 
interpose. Mrs. Raby showed most energy. Tlie circum- 
stances were already in the newspapers, but there was no 
mention of EUzabeth. Faikner had been taken from his 
home, but no daughter accompanied him, no daughter ap- 
peared to have any part in tlie sliocking scene. Had Faik- 
ner had the generosity to save her from disgrace ? If so, it 
became her duty to co-operate in his measures. Where 
Elizabeth had taken refuge, was uncertain ; but, on inquiry, 
it seemed that she was still at Wimbledon. Thither the 
ladies proceeded together. Anxiety possessed both to a 
painful degree. There was a mysteriousness in the prog- 
ress of events which they could not unveil — all depended 
on a clear and a happy explanation. The first words and 
first embrace of Elizabeth reassured her friend ; all indeed 
would be well, she restored to her place in society, and pim- 
ishment would fall on the guilty alone. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

The first words that Elizabeth spoke, as she embraced 
Lady Cecil, " You are come, then all is well," seemed to 
confirm her belief that the offered protection of Mrs. Raby 
would sound to the poor orphan as a hospitable shore to the 
wrecked mariner. She pressed her fondly to her heart, re- 
peating her own words, " All is well — dear, dear Elizabeth, 
you are restored to us, after I believed you lost for ever." 

"What, then, has happened!" asked Ehzabelh, "and 
where is my dear father ?" 

" Your father ! Miss Raby," repeated a deep, serious, but 
melodious voice ; " whom do you call your father !" 

Elizabeth, in her agitation, had not caught her aunt's name, 
and turned with surprise to the questioner, whom Lady 
Cecil introduced as one who had known and loved her real 



FALKNER. 246 

father ; as her aunt, come to offer a happy and honourable 
home — and the affection of a relative to one so long lost, so 
gladly found. 

" We have come to carry you off with us," said Lady Ce- 
cil; "your position here is altogether disagreeable; but ev- 
erything is changed now, and you will come with us." 

" But my father," cried Elizabeth ; " for what other 
name can I give to my benefactor ? Dear Lady Cecil, where 
is he 1" 

" Do you not then know V asked Lady Cecil, hesitatingly. 

" This very morning I heard something frightful, heart- 
breaking ; but since you are here, it must be all a fiction, or 
at least the dreadful mistake is put right. Tell me, where 
is Mr. FalknerV 

"I know less than you, I believe," replied her friend; 
" my information is only gathered from the hasty letters of 
my brother, which explain nothing." 

" But Mr. Neville has told you," said Ehzabeth, " that my 
dear father is accused of murder ; accused by him who pos- 
sesses the best proof of his innocence. I had thought Mr. 
Neville generous, unsuspicious — " 

" Nor is it he," interrupted Lady Cecil, " who brings this 
accusation. I tell you I know little ; but Sir Boyvill is the 
origin of Mr. Falkner's arrest. The account he read 
seemed to him unsatisfactory, and the remains of poor Mrs. 
Neville. Indeed, dear Elizabeth, you must not question me, 
for I know nothing ; much less than you. Gerard puts much 
faith in the innocence of Mr. Falkner." 

" Bless him for that!" cried Elizabeth, tears gushing into 
her eyes. " Oh yes, I knew tliat he would be just and 
generous. My poor, poor father ! by what fatal mistake is 
your cause judged by one incapable of understanding or 
appreciating you ?" 

" Yet," said Lady Cecil, " he cannot be wholly innocent ; 
the flight, the catastrophe, the concealment of his victim's 
death; is there not guilt in these events T' 

" Much, much ; I will not excuse or extenuate. If ever 
you read his narrative, which, at his desire, I gave Mr. 
Neville, you will learn from that every exculpation he can 
allege. It is not for me to speak, nor to hear even of his 
past errors; never was remorse more bitter, contrition more 
sincere. But for me, he had not survived the unhappy lady 
a week ; but for me, he had died in Greece, to expiate his 
fault. Will not this satisfy his angry accusers? 

" I must act from higher motives. Gratitude, duty, every 
human obligation bind me to him. He took me, a deserted 
orphan, from a state of miserable dependance on a grudging, 
vulgar woman : he brought me up as his child ; he was more 
to me than father ever was. He has nursed me as my own 
mother w-ould in sickness ; in perilous voyages he has car- 
2T 



246 FALKNER. 

ried nie in his arms, and sheltered me from the storm, while 
he exposed himself for my sake ; year after year, while 
none else have cared for, have thought, of me, 1 have been 
the object of his solicitude. He has consented to endure 
hfe, that I might not be left desolate, when I knew not that 
one of my father's family would acknowledge me. Shall 
I desert him now? Never!" 

" But you cannot help him," said Lady Cecil ; " he must 
be tried by the laws of his country. I hope he has not in 
truth offended against them ; but you cannot serve him." 

" Where is he, dear Lady Cecil ] tell me where he is." 

" I fear there can be no doubt he is in prison at Car- 
lisle." 

"And do you think that I cannot serve him there? in 
prison as a criminal ! Miserable as his fate makes me, mis- 
erable as I too well know that he is, it is some compensa- 
tion to my selfish heart to know that I can serve him, that 
I can be all in all of happiness and comfort to him. Even 
now he pines for me ; he knows that I never leave his side 
when in sorrow; he wonders I am not already there. Yes, 
in prison, in shame, he will be happy when he sees me 
again. I shall go to him, and then, too, I shall have com- 
fort." 

She spoke with a generous animation, while yet her eyes 
glistened, and her voice trembled with emotion. Lady Ce- 
cil was moved, while she deplored ; she caressed her ; she 
praised, while Mrs. Raby said, " It is impossible not to hon- 
our your intentions, wliich spring from so pure and noble a 
source. I think, indeed, that you overrate your obligations 
to Mr. Falkner. Had he restored you to us after your 
mother's death, you would have found, I trust, a happy 
home with me. He adopted you, because it best pleased 
him so to do. He disregarded the evil he brought upon us 
by so doing ; and only restored you to us when the conse- 
quence of his crimes prevented him from being any longer 
a protection." 

" Pardon me," said Elizabeth, " if I interrupt you. Mr. 
Falkner is a suffering, he believed himself to be a dying, 
man ; he lived in anguish till he could declare his error, to 
clear the name of his unhappy victim ; he wished first to 
secure my future lot, before he dai-ed fate for himself; 
cliance altered his designs ; such were his motives, gener- 
ous towards me as they ever were." 

" And you, dear Elizabeth," said Lady Cecil, " must act 
in obedience to them and to his wishes. He anticipated 
disgrace from his disclosures — a disgrace which you must 
not share. You speak like a romantic girl of serving him 
in prison. You cannot guess what a modern jail is, its vul- 
gar and shocking inhabitants : the hideous language and 



FALKNER, 247 

squalid sights are such that their very existence should be 
a secret to the innocent ; be assured that Mr. Falkner, if he 
be, as I believe him, a man of honour and deUcacy, will 
shudder at the very thought of your approaching such con- 
tamination ; he will be best pleased to know you safe and 
happy with your family." 

"What a picture do you draw!" cried Elizabeth, trying 
to suppress her tears ; " my poor, poor father, whose life 
hangs by a thread! how can he survive the accumulation 
of evil ? But he will forget all these liorrors when I am 
with him. I know, thank God, I do indeed know, that I 
have power to cheer and support him, even at the worst." 

'• This is madness V observed Lady Cecil, in a tone of 
distress. 

Mrs. Raby interposed with her suggestions. She spoke 
of her own desire, the desire of all the family, to welcome 
Elizabeth ; she told her that with them, belonging to them, 
she had new duties ; her obedience was due to her rela- 
tives ; she must not act so as to injure tliem. She alluded 
to their oppressed religion ; to the malicious joy their ene- 
mies would have in divulging such a tale as that would be, 
if their niece's conduct made the whole course of events 
public. And, as well as she could, she intimated that if she 
mixed up her name in a tale so full of horror and guilt, her 
father's family could never after receive her. 

Elizabeth heard all this with considerable coldness. " It 
grieves me," she said, " to repay intended kindness with 
something like repulse. 1 have no wish to speak of the 
past ; nor to remind you that if I was not brought up in obe- 
dience to you all, it was because my father was disown- 
ed, my mother abandoned; and I, a little child, an orphan, 
was left to live and die in dependance. I, who then bore 
your name, had become a subject of niggard and degrading 
charity. Then, young as 1 was, I felt gratitude, obedience, 
duty, all due to the generous benefactor who raised me 
from this depth of want, and made me the child of his heart. 
It is a lesson I have been learning many years ; I cannot 
unlearn it now. I am his ; bought by his kindness ; earned 
by his unceasing care for me, 1 belong to him — his child — 
if you will, his servant — I do not quarrel with names — a 
child's duty I pay him, and will ever. Do not be angry 
with me, dear aunt, if I may give you that name — dearest 
Lady Cecil, do not look so imploringly on me — I am very 
unhappy. Mr. Falkner a prisoner, accused of the most hid- 
eous crime — treated with ignominy — he whose nerves are 
agonized by a touch — whose frame is even now decaying 
through sickness and sorrow — and I, and every hope, away. 
I am very unhappy. Do not urge me to what is impossi- 
ble, and thrice, thrice wicked. 1 must go to him ; day and 



248 FALKNER. 

night I shall have no peace till I am at his side ; do not, for 
my sake do not, dispute this sacred duty." 

It was not thus that the two ladies could be led to desist ; 
they soothed her, but again returned to the charge. Lady 
Cecil brought a thousand arguments of worldly wisdom, of 
feminine dehcacy. Mrs. Raby insinuated the duty owed to 
her family, to shield it from the disgrace she was bringing 
on it. They both insisted on the impossibility, on the fool- 
ish romance of her notions. Had she been really his daugh- 
ter, her joining him in prison was impracticable — out of all 
propriety. But Elizabeth had been brought up to regard 
feelings, rather than conventional observances ; duties, not 
proprieties. All her life Falkner had been her law, rule, 
every tie to her ; she knew and felt nothing beyond. When 
she had followed him to Greece — w^hen she had visited the 
Morea, to bear him, dying, away — when at Zante she had 
watched by his sick couch, the world, and all the Rabys it 
contained, were nothing to her ; and now, when he was 
visited by a far heavier calamity, when, in solitude and mis- 
ery, he had, besides her, no one comfort under heaven, was 
she to adopt a new system of conduct, become a timid, 
home-bred young lady, tied by the most frivolous rules, im- 
peded by fictitious notions of propriety and false delicacy ? 
Whether they were right and she were wrong — whether, 
indeed, such submission to society — such viseless, degra- 
ding dereliction of nobler duties, was adapted for feminine 
conduct, and whether she, despising such bonds, sought a 
bold and dangerous freedom, she could not tell; she only 
knew and felt, that for her, educated, as she had been, be- 
yond the narrow paling of boarding-school ideas, or the re- 
finements of a lady's boudoir, that, where her benefactor 
was, there she ought to be ; and that to prove her gratitude, 
to preserve her faithful attachment to him amid dire adver- 
sity, was her sacred duty — a virtue before which every mi- 
nor moral faded and disappeared. 

The discussion was long; and, even when they found her 
proof against every attack, they would not give up. They 
entreated her to go home with them for that day. A wild 
light beamed from her eyes. " I am going home," she 
cried ; " an hour hence, and I shall be gone to where my 
true home is. How strange it is that you should imagine 
that I could linger here ! 

" Be not afraid for me, dear Lady Cecil," she continued ; 
all will go well with me ; and you will, after a little reflec- 
tion, acknowledge that I could not act other than I do. And 
will you, Mrs. Raby, forgive my seeming ingratitude 1 I 
acknowledge the justice of your demands. I thank you for 
your proposed kindness. The name of Raby shall receive 
no injury ; it shall never escape my lips. My father will 
preserve t^e aame silence. Bk? not etigry with rae ; b^jt— 



FALKNER. 249 

except that I remember my dear parents with aflection — I 
would s;iy, I take more joy and pride in being his daughter, 
his friend at tiiis need, than in the distinction and prosper- 
ity your kindness offers. I give up every chiini on my fam- 
ily ; ihe name of Raby shall not be tainted ; but Elizabeth 
Falkner, with all her wilfulness and faults, shall, at least, 
prove her gratitude to him who bestowed that appellation 
on her." 

And thus they parted. Lady Cecil veiling her distress in 
sullenuess ; while Mrs. Raby was struck and moved by her 
niece's generosity, which was in accordance with her own 
noble mind. But she felt that other judges would sit upon 
the cause, and decide from other motives. She parted from 
her as a pagan rel;itive might from a young Christian mar- 
tyr — admiring, while she deplored her sacrifice, and feeling 
herself wholly incapable of saving. 



CHAPTER XL. 

Elizabeth delayed not a moment proceeding on her jour- 
ney ; an exalted enthusiasm made her heart beat high, and 
almost joyously. This buoyancy of spirit, springing from a 
generous course of action, is the compensation provided for 
our sacrifices of inclination — and at least, on first setting 
out, blinds us to the sad results we may be preparing for 
ourselves. Elated by a sense of acting according to the 
dictates of her conscience, despite the horror of the circum- 
stances that closed in the prospect, her spirits were light, 
and her eyes glistened with a feeling at once triumphant 
and tender, while reflecting on the comfort she was bringing 
to her imfortunate benefactor. A spasm of horror seized 
her now and then, as the recollection pressed that he was 
in prison — accused as a murderer — but her young heart re- 
fused to be cowed, even by the ignominy and anguish of 
such a reflection. 

A philosopher not long ago remarked, when adverting to 
the principle of destruction latent in all works of art, and 
the overthrow of the most durable edifices ; " but when they 
are destroyed, so as to produce only dust, Nature asserts an 
empire over them-, and the vegetative world rises in con- 
stant youth, and in a period of annual successions, by the 
labours of man, providing food, vitality and beauty adora 
the wrecks of monuments, which were once raised for pur- 
poses of glory." Thus when crime and wo attack and 
wreck an erring human being, the affections and virtues of 
one faithfully attached decorate the ruin with alien beauty ; 
L3 



250 FALKNER. 

and make that pleasant to the eye and heart which other- 
wise we might turn from as a loathsome spectacle. 

It was a cold September day when she began her journey, 
and the solitary hours spent on the road exhausted her 
spirits. In the evening she arrived at Stony Stratford, and 
here, at the invitation of her servant, consented to spend 
the night. The solitary inn-room, without a fire, and her 
lonely supper, chilled her; so susceptible are we to the 
minor casualties of life, even when we meet the greater 
with heroic resolution. She longed to skip the present 
hour, to be arrived — she longed to see Falkner, and to hear 
his voice — she felt fulorn and deserted. At this moment 
the door was opened, " a gentleman" was announced, and 
Gerard Neville entered. Love and nature at this moment 
asserted their full sway — her heart bounded in her bosom, 
her cheek flushed, her soul was deluged at once with a 
sense of living delight — she had never thought to see him 
more — she had tried to forget that she regretted this ; but 
he was there, and she felt that such a pleasure were cheaply 
purchased by the sacrifice of her existence. He also felt 
the influence of the spell. He came agitated by many fears, 
perplexed by the very motive that led him to her — but she 
was tliere in all her charms, the dear object of his nightly 
dreams and waking reveries — hesitation and reserve van- 
ished in her presence, and they both felt the aUianceof their 
hearts. 

" Now that I am here, and see you," said Neville, " it 
seems to me the most natural thing in the world that I 
should have followed you as I have done. While away, I 
had a thousand misgivings — and wherefore ] did you not 
sympathize in my sufferings, and desire to aid me in my en- 
deavours ; and I feel convinced that fate, while by the turn 
of events it appeared to disunite, has, in fact, linked us 
closer than ever. I am come with a message from Sophia 
— and to urge also, on my own part, a change in your re- 
solves ; you must not pursue your present journey." 

" You have, indeed, been taking a lesson from Lady Cecil, 
when you say tliis," replied Elizabeth ; " she has taught 
you to be worldly for me — a lesson you would not learn on 
your own account — she did not seduce me in this way ; I 
gave you my support when you were going to America." 

Elizabeth began to speak almost sportively, but the men- 
tion of America brought to her recollection the cause of his 
going and tlie circumstances that prevented him; and the 
tears gushed from her eyes as she continued, in a voice 
broken by emotion, "Oh, Mr. Neville, I smile while my 
he^irt is breaking — my dear, dear father! What misery is 
this that you have brought on him — and now, while he 
treated you witii unreserve, have you falsely — you nuist 
know — accused him of crime, and pursued your vengeance 



FALKNER. 251 

in a vindictive and ignuminious manner? It is not well 
done !" 

" I pardon your injustice," said Neville, " though it is 
very great. One of my reasons for coming was to explain 
the exact state of things, though I believed that your knowl- 
edge of me would have caused you to reject the idea of my 
being a party to my father's feelings of revenge." 

Neville then related all that had passed; the discovery of 
his mother's remains in the very spot Falknerhad indicated, 
and Sir Boyvill's resolve to bring the whole train of events 
before the public. " Perhaps,"' he continued, '• my father 
believes in the justice of his accusation — he never saw Mr. 
Falkner, and cannot be impressed as I am by the tokens of 
a noble mind, which, despite his errors, are indelibly im- 
printed on his brow. At all events, he is filled with a sense 
of his own injuries — stung by the disdain heaped on him 
in that narration, and angry that he had been led to wrong 
a wife, the memory of whose virtues and beauty now re- 
vives bitterly to reproach him. I cannot wonder at his con- 
duct, even while 1 deplore it ; I do deplore it on your ac- 
count; for Mr. Falkner, God knows I would have visited 
his crime in another mode ; yet all he suffers he has 
brought on himself — he must feel it due — and must bear it 
as best he may : forgive me if I seem harsh — I compassion- 
ate him through you — I cannot for his own sake." 

" How falsely do you reason," cried Elizabeth ; " and you 
also are swayed and perverted by passion. Ke is innocent 
of the hideous crime laid to his charge — you know and feel 
that he is innocent ; and were he guilty — 1 have heard you 
lament that crime is so hardly visited by the laws of soci- 
ety. I have heard you say, that even where guilt is joined 
to the hardness of habitual vice, that it ought to be treated 
with the indulgence of a correcting father, not by the cruel 
vengeance of the law. And now, when one whose very 
substance and flesh are corroded by remorse — one whose 
conscience acts as a perpetual scourge — one who has expi- 
ated his fault by many years spent in acts of benevolence 
and heroism ; this man, because his error has injured you, 
you, forgetting your own philosophy, would make over to a 
fate which, considering who and what he is, is the most 
calamitous human imagination can conceive." 

Neville could not hear this appeal without the deepest 
pain. " Let us forget," he at last said, " these things for a 
few minutes. They did not arise through me, nor can 1 
prevent them ; indeed, they are now beyond all human con- 
trol. Falkner could as easily restore my mother, whose re- 
mains we found mouldering in the grave which he dug for 
them ; he could as easily bring her back to the life and happi- 
ness of which he deprived her, as I, my father, or any one, 
free him from the course of law to which he is made over. 



252 FALKNER. 

We must all abide by the issue — there is no remedy. But 
you — I would speak of you — " 

" I cannot speak, cannot think of myself," replied Eliza- 
beth, " except in one way — to think all delays tedious that 
keep me from my father's side, and prevent me from 
sharing his wretchedness." 

" And yet you must not go to him," said Neville; " yours 
is the scheme of inexperience — but it must not be. How 
can you share Mr. Falkner's sorrows ^ you will scarcely be 
admitted to see him. And how unfit for you is such a 
scene ! You cannot guess what these things are ; believe 
me, they are most unfit for one of your sex and age. I 
grieve to say in what execration the supposed murderer of 
my mother is held. You would be subjected to insult, you 
are alone and unprotected — even your high spirit would be 
broken by the evils that will gather round you." 

" 1 think not," replied Elizabeth ; " I cannot believe that 
my spirit can be broken by injustice, or that it can quail 
while 1 perform a duty. It would indeed — spirit and heart 
would both break — were my conscience burdened with the 
sin of deserting my father. In prison — amid the hootings 
of the mob — if for such I am reserved — I shall be safe and 
well guarded by the approbation of my own mind." 

" Would that an angel from heaven would descend to 
guard you !" cried Neville, passionately ; " but in this inex- 
plicable world, guilt and innocence are so mingled, that the 
one reaps the blessings deserved by the other ; and the lat- 
ter sinks beneath the punishment incurred by the former. 
Else why, removed by birth, space, and time from all natu- 
ral connexion with the cause of all this misery, are you cast 
on this evil hour ? Were you his daughter, my heart would 
not rebel — blood calls to blood, and a child's duty is para- 
mount. But you are no child of his ; you spring from an- 
other race — honour, affection, prosperity await you in your 
proper sphere. What have you to do with that unhappy 
man ? 

" Yet another word," he continued, seeing Elizabeth 
aboirt to reply with eagerness; " and yet how vain are 
words to persuade. Could I but take you to a tower, and 
show you, spread below, the course of events, and the fatal 
results of your present resolves, you would suffer me to 
lead you from the dangerous path you are treading. If 
once you reach Cumberland, and appear publicly as Falk- 
ner's daughter, the name of Raby is lost to you forever; 
and if the Avorst should come, Avhere will you turn for sup- 
port I Where fly for refuge I Unable to convince, I would 
substitute entreaty, and implore you to spare yourself these 
evils. You know not, indeed you do not know, what you 
are about to do." 

Thus impetuously urged, Elizabeth was for a few minutes 



PALKNER. 253 

half bewildered ; " I am afraid," she said, " I suppose, indeed, 
that 1 am something of a savage — unable to bend to the 
laws of civilization. I did not know tiiis — I thought 1 was 
much like other girls — attached to their home and parents 
— fulfilling their daily duties, as the necessities of those pa- 
rents demand. I nursed my father when sick : now that he 
is in worse adversity, I still feel my proper place to be at 
his side, as his comforter and companion, glad if I can be of 
any solace to him. He is my father — my more than father 
— my preserver in helpless childhood from the worst fate. 
May I suffer every evil when I forget that ! Even if a false 
belief of his guilt renders the world inimical to him, it will 
not be so unjust to one as unoffending as I ; and if it is, it 
cannot touch me. Methinks we speak two languages — I 
speak of duties the most sacred ; to fail in which would 
entail self-condemnation on me to the end of my days. 
You speak of the conveniences, the paint, the outside of 
life, which is as nothing in comparison. I cannot yield — I 
grieve to seem eccentric and headstrong — it is my hard fate, 
not my will, so to appear." 

" Do not give such aname," replied Neville, deeply moved, 
" to an heroic generosity, only too exalted for this bad 
world. It is I that must yield, and pray to God to shield 
and recompense you as you deserve — he only can — he and 
your own noble heart. And will you pardon me, Miss 
Raby ]" 

" Do not give me that name," interrupted Elizabeth. " I 
act in contradiction to my relations' wishes — I will not as- 
sume their name. The other, too, must be painful to you. 
Call me Elizabeth—" 

Neville took her hand. " I am," he said, " a selfish, 
odious being ; you are full of self-sacrifice, of thought fof 
others, of every blessed virtue. I think of myself — and 
hate myself while I yield to the impulse. Dear, dear Eliz- 
abeth, since thus I may call you, are you not all I have ever 
imagined of excellent ? I love you beyond all thought or 
word; and have for many, many months, sii.-.e first I saw 
you at Marseilles. Without reflection, 1 knew and felt you 
to be the being my soul thirsted for. I find you, and you 
are lost !" 

Love's own colour died deeply the cheeks of Elizabeth 
— she felt recompensed for every suffering in the simple 
knowledge of the sentiment she inspired. A moment be- 
fore, clouds and storms had surrounded her horizon ; now 
the sun broke in upon it. It was a transcendent though a 
transient gleam. The thought of Falkner again obscured 
the radiance, which, even in its momentary flash, was as if 
an angel, bearing with it the airs of paradise, had revealed 
itself, and then again become obscured- 

Neville was less composed. He had never fully entered 
22 



"254 FALKNER. 

into his father's bitter thoughts against Falkner — and Eliz- 
abeth's fidelity to the unhappy man made hirn half suspect 
the unexampled cruelty and injustice of the whole proceed- 
ing. Still compassion for the prisoner was a passive feel- 
ing; while horror at the fate preparing for Elizabeth stirred 
his sensitive nature to its depths, and filled him with anguish. 
He walked impatiently about the room — and stopped before 
her, fixing on her his soft lustrous eyes, whose expression 
was so full of tenderness and passion. Elizabeth felt their 
influence ; but this was not the hour to yield to the delu- 
sions of love, and she said — " Now you will leave me, Mr. 
Neville — I have far to travel to-morrow — good-night." 

" Have patience with me yet a moment longer," said Ne- 
ville ; " I cannot leave you thus — without off"ering from my 
whole heart, and conjuring you to accept my services. 
Parting thus, it is very uncertain when we meet again, and 
fearful suflTerings are prepared for you. I believe that you 
esteem, that you have confidence in me. You know that 
my disposition is constant and persevering. You know 
that the aim of my early life being fulfilled, and my mother's 
name freed from the unworthy aspersions cast upon it, I at 
once transfer every thought, every hope, to your well-being. 
At a distance, knowing the scene of misery in which you 
are placed, I shall be agitated by perpetual fears, and pass 
unnumbered hours of bitter disquietude. Will you promise 
me, that, despite all that divides us, if you need any aid or 
service, you will write to me, commanding me, in the full 
assurance that all you order shall be executed in its very 
spirit and letter V 

" I will indeed," replied Elizabeth, " for I know that 
whatever happens you will always be my friend." 

" Your true, your best, your devoted friend," cried Ne- 
ville ; " it will always be my dearest ambition to prove all 
" this. I will not adopt the name of brother — yet use me as 
a brother — no brother ever cherished the honour, safety, 
and happiness of a sister as I do yours." 

" You knew," said Elizabeth, " that I shall not be alone 
—that I go to one to whom I owe obedience, and who can 
direct me. If in his frightful situation he needs counsel and 
assistance, it is not you, alas, that can render them ; still 
in the world of sorrow in which I shall soon be an inhabit- 
ant, it will be a solace and support to think of your kind- 
ness, and rely upon it as unreservedly as I do." 

" A world of sorrow, indeed !" repeated Neville ; " a 
world of ignominy and wo, such as ought never to have 
visited you, even in a dream. Its duration will be prolonged 
also beyond all fortitude or patience. Of course Mr. Falk- 
ner's legal advisers will insist on the necessity of Osborne's 
testimony — he must be sent for, and brought over. This 
demands time ; it will be spring before the trial takes place." 



FALKNER. 255 

" And all this time my father will be imprisoned as a 
felon in a jail," cried Elizabeth, tears, bitter tears spring- 
ing into her eyes. " Most horrible ! Oh how necessary 
that 1 should be with him, to lighten the weary, unending 
hours. I tliought all would soon be over — and his libera- 
tion at hand ; this delay of justice is indeed beyond my 
fears. "- 

" Thank God, that you are thus sanguine of the final re- 
sult," rephed Neville. " I will not say a word to shake 
your confidence, and I fervently hope it is well placed. And 
now indeed good-night, I will not detain you longer. All 
good angels guard you — you cannot guess how bitterly I 
feel the necessity that disjoins us in this hour of mutual 
suffering." 

" Forgive me," said Elizabeth, " but my thoughts are 
with my father. You have conjured up a whole train of 
fearful anticipations ; but I will quell them, and be patient 
again — for his, and all our sakes." 

They separated, and at the moment of parting, a gush of 
tenderness smoothed the harsher feelings inspired by their 
grief — despite herself, Elizabeth felt comforted by her 
friend's faithful and earnest attachment ; and a few minutes 
passed in self-communion restored lier to those hopes for 
the best, which are the natural growth of youth and inex- 
perience. Neville left the inn immediately on quitting her; 
and she, unable to sleep, occupied by various reveries, 
passed a few uneasy, and yet not wholly miserable, hours. 
A hallowed calm at last succeeded to her anxious fears ; 
springing from a reliance on Heaven, and the natural de- 
light of being loved by one so dear ; it smoothed her wrink- 
led cares and blunted her poignant regrets. 

At earliest dakn she sprung from her bed, eager to pursue 
her journey — nor did she again take rest till she arrived at 
Carlisle. 



CHAPTER XLI. 

In the best room that could be allotted to him consistently 
with safe imprisonment, and with such comforts around as 
money might obtain, Falkner passed the lingering days. 
"What so forlorn as the comforts of a prison! the wigwam 
of the Indian is more pleasing to the imagination — that is 
in close contiguity with Nature, and partakes iier charm — 
no barrier exists between it and freedom — and Nature and 
freedom are the stanch friends of unsophisticated man. 
But a jail's best room sickens the heart in its very show of 



256 FALKNER. 

accommodation. The strongly-barred windows, looking 
out on the narrow court, surrounded by high frowning 
walls ; the appalling sounds that reach the ear, in such 
close neighbourhood to crime and wo ; the squalid appear- 
ance given to each inhabitant by the confined air — the surly, 
authoritative manners of the attendants — not dependant on 
the prisoner, but on the state — the knowledge that all may 
come in, while he cannot get out — and the conviction that 
the very unshackled state of his limbs depends upon his 
tame submission and apparent apathy ; there is no one cir- 
cumstance that does not wound the free spirit of man, and 
make him envy the meanest animal that breathes the free 
air, and is at liberty. 

Falkner, by that strange law of our nature which makes 
lis conceive the future, without being aware of our fore- 
knowledge, had acquainted his imagination with these 
things — and while writing his history amid the far-stretched 
mountains of Greece, had shrunk and trembled before such 
an aspect of slavery ; and yet now that it had fallen on him, 
he felt in the first instance more satisfied, more trlily free, 
than for many a long day before. 

There is no tyranny so hard as fear ; no prison so abhor- 
rent as apprehension ; Falkner was not a coward, yet he 
feared. He feared discovery — he feared ignominy, and had 
eagerly sought death to free him from the terror of such 
evils, with which, perhaps — so strangely are we formed — 
Osborne had infected him. It had come — it was here — it 
was his life, his daily bread ; and he rose above the infliction 
calmly, and almost proudly. It is with pride that we say that 
we endure the worst — there is a very freedom in the thought, 
that the animosity of all mankind is roused against us — and 
every engine set at work for our injury — no more can be 
done — the gulf is passed — the claw of the wild beast is on 
our heart — but the spirit soars more freely still. To this 
was added the singular relief which confession brings to the 
human heart. Guilt hidden in the recesses of the con- 
science assumes gigantic and distorted dimensions. When 
the secret is shared by another, it falls back at once into 
its natural pi'oportion. 

Much had this man of wo endnred — the feeling against- 
him throughout the part of the country where he now was 
was vehement. The discovery of poor AHthea's remains — 
the inquest, and its verdict — the unhappy lady's funeral — 
had spread fur and wide his accusation. It had been found 
necessary to take him into Carlisle by night ; and even then, 
some few remained in waiting, and roused their fellows, 
and the hootings of execration were raised against him. 
" I end as I began," thought Falkner ; " amid revilings and 
injustice — I can surely suffer now that which was so often 
my lot in the first dawn of boyhood." 



FALKNER. 257 

His examination before the magistrates was a more pain- 
ful proceeding. There was no glaring injustice, no vindic- 
tive hatred here, and yet he was accused of the foulest 
cvime in nature, and saw in many faces the belief that he 
was a murderer. The murderer of Alithea ! He could 
have laughed in scorn, to think that such an idea had en- 
tered a man's mind. She, an angel whom he worshipped — 
whom to save he would have met ten thousand deaths — 
how mad a world — how insane a system must it be, where 
such a thought was not scouted as soon as conceived ! 

Falkner had no vulgar mind. In early youth he experi- 
enced those aspirations after excellence which betoken 
the finely moulded among our fellow-creatures. There 
was a type of virtue engraved in his heart, after which he 
desired to model himself. Since the hour when the conse- 
quences of his guilt revealed its true form to him, he had 
striven, like an eagle in an iron-bound cage, to free himself 
from the trammels of conscience. He felt within how 
much better lie might be than anything he was. But all 
this was unacknowledged and uncared for in the present 
scene — it was not the heroism of his soul that was inquired 
into, but the facts of his whereabouts ; not the sacred na- 
ture of his worship for Alithea, but whether he had had oppor- 
tunity to perpetrate crime. When we are conscious of in- 
nocence, what so heart-sickening as to combat circum- 
stances that accuse us of guilt which we abhor. His pris- 
on-room was a welcome refuge after such an ordeal. 

His spirit could not be cowed by misfortune, and he felt 
unnaturally glad to be where he was ; he felt glad to be the 
victim of injustice, the mark of unspeakable adversity ; but 
his body's strength failed to keep pace with the lofty dis- 
dain of his soul — and Elizabeth, where was she I He re- 
joiced that she was absent when torn from his home ; he 
had directed the servants to say nothing to ]\Iiss Falkner — 
he would write ; and he luid meant to fulfil this promise, 
but each time he thought to do so he shrunk repugnant. 
He would not for worlds call her to his side, to share the 
horrors of his lot ; and feeling sure that she would be vis- 
ited by some member of her father's family, he thought it 
best to let things take their course — unprotected and alone, 
she would gladly accept refuge there where it was oflered 
— and the tie snapped between them— happiness and love 
would alike smile on her. 

He had it deeply at heart that she should not be mingled 
in the frightful details of his present situation, and yet 
drearily he missed her, for he loved her with a feeling 
which, though not paternal, was as warm as ever filled a 
father's breast. His passions were ardent, and all that 
could be spared from remorse were centred in his adopted 
child. He had looked on her. as the prophet might on the 
22* 



258 FALKNER. 

angel who ministered to his wants in the desert : in the 
abandonment of all mankind, in tlie desolation to which his 
crime had led him, she had brought love and cheer. Slie 
had been his sweet household companion, his familiar 
friend, his patient nurse — his soul had grown to her image, 
and when the place was vacant that she had filled, he was 
excited by eager longings for her presence, that even made 
his man's heart soft as a woman's with very desire. 

By degrees, as he thought of her and the past, the hero- 
ism of his soul was undermined and weakened. To every 
eye he continued composed, and even cheerful, as before. 
None could read in his impassive countenance the misery 
that dwelt within. He spent his time in reading and wri- 
ting, and in necessary communications with the lav/yers 
who were to conduct his defence ; and all this was done 
with a calm eye and unmoved voice. No token of com- 
plaint or impatience ever escaped ; he seemed equal to the 
fortune that attacked him. He grew, indeed, paler and 
thinner — till his handsome features stood out in their own 
expressive beauty ; he might have served for a model of 
Prometheus — the vulture at his heart producing pangs and 
spasms of physical suflfering ; but his will unconquered — 
his mind refusing to acknowledge the bondage to which his 
body was the prey. It was an unnatural combat ; for the 
tenderness which was blended with his fiercer passions, 
and made the charm of his character, sided with his ene- 
mies, and made him less able to bear, than one more rough- 
ly and hardly framed. 

He loved nature — he had spent his life among her scenes. 
Nothing of her visited him now, save a star or two that 
rose above the prison wall into the slip of sky his window 
commanded ; they were the faintest stars in heaven, and 
often were shrouded by clouds and mist. Thus doubly im- 
prisoned. Ills body barred by physical impediments — his 
soul shut up in itself — he became, in the energetic language 
of genius, the cannibal of his own heart. Without a vent 
for any, thoughts revolved in his brain with the velocity 
and action of a thousand mill-wheels, and would not be 
stopped. Now a spasm of painful emotion covered his brow 
with a cold dew — now self-contempt made every portion of 
himself detestable in his own eyes — now he felt the curse 
of God upon him, weighing him down with heavy, relent- 
less burden ; and then again he was assailed by images of 
freedom, and keen longings for the free air. " If even, like 
iMazeppa, I might seek the wilds, and career along, though 
death was the bourn in view, I were happy !" These wild 
thoughts crossed him, exaggerated into gasping desire to 
achieve such a fate, when the sights and sounds of a prison 
gathered thick around, and made the very tliought of his 
fellow-creatures one of disgust and abhorrence. 



FALKNER. 259 

Thus sunk in gloom, far deeper internally than in outward 
show — warring with remorse and the sense of unmerited 
injury — vanquished by fate, yet refusing to yield, imture had 
reached tlie acme of suffering. He grew to be careless of 
the result of his trial, and to neglect the means of safety. 
He pondered on self-destruction — though that were giving 
the victory to his enemies. He looked round him ; his cell 
appeared a tomb. He felt as if he had passed out of life 
into death ; strange thoughts and images flitted through his 
mind, and the mortal struggle drew to a close^-when, on a 
day, his prison-door opened, and Elizabeth stepped within 
the threshold. 

To see the beloved being we long for inexpressibly, and 
believe to be so far — to hear the dear voice, whose &weet 
accent we imagined to be mute to us for ever — to feel the 
creature's very soul in real communion with us, and the 
person we dote on visible to our eyes, such are moments 
of bliss, which the very imperfections of our finite nature 
render immeasurably dear. Falkner saw his child, and 
felt no longer imprisoned. She was freedom and security. 
Looking on her sweet face, he could not believe in the ex- 
istence of evil. Wrongs and wo, and a torturing conscience, 
melted and fled away before her ; while fresh-springing hap- 
piness filled every portion of his being. 



CHAPTER XLII. 

Elizabeth arrived at the moment of the first painful crisis 
of Falkner's fate. The assizes came on — busy faces crowd- 
ed into his cell, and various consultations took place as to 
the method of his defence ; and here began a series of cares, 
mortifications, and worse anxieties, which brought home to 
the hearts of the sufferers the hoirors of their position. 

The details of crime and its punishment are so alien to 
the individuals placed in the upper classes of society, that 
they read them as tales of another and a distant land. And 
it is like being cast away on a strange and barbarous coun- 
try to find such become a part of our own lives. The list 
of criminals — the quality of their offences — the position 
Falkner held among them, were all discussed by the men of 
law ; and Falkner listened, impassive in seeming apathy — 
his eagle eye bent on vacancy — his noble brow showing no 
trace of the rush of agonizing thought that flowed through 
his brain ; it was not till he saw his child's earnest, search- 
ing eyes bent on him that he smiled, so to soften tlie keen- 
ness of her lively sympathy. She listened too, her cheek 



260 FALKNER. 

alternately flushed and pale, and her eyes brimming over 
with tears, as she drew nearer to her unfortunate friend's 
side, as if her innocence and love might stand between him 
and the worst. 

The decision of the grand jury was the first point to be 
considered. Tliere existed no doubt but that that would go 
against the accused. The lawyers averred this, but still 
Elizabeth hoped ; men could not be so blind, or some un- 
foreseen enlightenment might dawn on their understandings. 
The witnesses against him were Sir Boyvill and his son ; 
the latter, she well knew, abhorred the course pursued; and 
if some touch could reach Sir Boyvill's heart, and show him 
the unwortliiness and falsehood of his proceedings, through 
the mode in which their evidence might be given, all would 
alter — the scales would drop from men's eyes, the fetters 
from Falkner's limbs, and this strange and horrible entan- 
glement be dissipated like morning mist. She brooded for 
ever on these thoughts ; sometimes she pondered on writing 
to Neville — sometimes on seeing his father ; but his asser- 
tion was recollected that nothing now could alter the course 
of events, and that drove her back upon despair. 

For ever thinking on these things and hearing them dis- 
cussed, it was yet a severe blow to both when, in the tech- 
nical language of the craft, it was announced that a true bill 
was found against Rupert Falkner. 

Such is the nature of the mind, that hitherto Falkner had 
never looked on the coming time in its true proportions or 
colours. The decision of the preliminarj' jury, which jnight 
be in his favour, had stood as a screen between him and the 
future. Knowing himself to be innocent, abhorring the very 
iftiage of the crime of which he was accused, how could 
twelve impartial, educated men agree that any construction 
put upon his actions should cast the accusation on him 1 
The lawyers had told him that so it would be — he had read 
the fearful expectation in Elizabeth's eyes — but it could not! 
Justice was not a mere word — innocence bore a stamp not 
to be mistaken ; the vulgar and senseless malice of Sir Boy- 
vill would be scouted and reprobated ; such was his intimate 
conviction, though he had never expressed it ; but this was 
all clianged now. The tale of horror was admitted, regis- 
tered as a probability, and had become a rule for future acts. 
The ignominy of a public trial would assuredly be his. And 
going, as is usual, from one extreme to the other, the belief 
entered his soul that he should be foimd guilty and die the 
death. A dark veil fell over life and nature. Ofttimes he 
felt glad even to escape tlms from a hideous system of 
wrong and suffering ; but the innate pride of the heart re- 
belled, and his soid struggled as in the toils. 

Elizabeth heard the decision with even more dismay ; her 
head swam, and she grew sick at heart. Would his trial 



PALKNER. 261 

come on in a few days 1 would all soon, so soon, be deci- 
ded] was the very moment near at hand to make or mar 
existence, and turn this earth from a scene of hope into a 
very hell of torture and despair ? for such to her it must be 
if the worst befell Falkner. The worst! oh, what a worst! 
how hideous, squalid, unredeemed! There was madness in 
the thouglit, and slie hurried to his cell to see him and hear 
liim speak, so to dissipate the horror of her thoughts ; her 
presence of mind, her equanimity, all deserted her; she 
looked bewildered — her heart beat as if it would burst her 
bosom — her face grew ashy pale — her limbs unstrung of 
every strength — and her efforts to conceal her weakness 
from Falkner's eyes but served the more to confuse. 

She found him seated near his window, looking on so 
much of the autumnal sky as could be perceived through 
the bars of the high narrow opening. The clouds traversed 
the slender portion of heaven thus visible ; they fled fast to 
other lands, and the spirit of liberty rode upon their out- 
stretched wings ; away they flew far from him, and he had 
no power to reach their bourn, nor to leave tlie dingy walls 
that held him in. Oh, Nature i while we possess thee, thy 
changes ever lovely, thy vernal airs or majestic storms, thy 
vast creation spread at our feet, above, around us, how can 
we call ourselves unhappy "? There is brotherhood in the 
growing, opening flowers, love in the soft winds, repose in 
the verdant expanse, and a quick spirit of happy life through- 
out, with which our souls hold glad communion. But the 
poor prisoner was barred out from these ; how cumbrous 
the body felt, how alien to the inner spirit of man the fleshy 
bars- that allowed it to become the slave of his fellows. 

The stunning effects of the first blow had passed away, 
and there was in Falkner's face that lofty expression that 
resembled coldness, though it was the triumph over sensi- 
bility ; something of disdain curled his lip, and his whole air 
denoted the acquisition of a power superior to fate. Trem- 
bling, Elizabeth entered ; never before had she lost self- 
command ; even now she paused at the threshold to resume 
it, but in vain ; she saw him, she flew to his arms, she dis- 
solved in tears, and became all woman in her tender fears. 
He was touched — he would have soothed her ; a choking 
sensation arose in his throat : " I never felt a prisoner till 
now," he cried : " can you still cling to one struck with in- 
famy V' 

" Dearer, more beloved than ever !" she nun-mured : 
" surely there is no tie so close and strong as miserj'l" 

" Dear, generous girl." said Falkner, "how I h>»te myself 
for making such large demand on your sympathy. Let me 
suffer alone. Tliis is not the place for you, Flizalicth. 
Your free step should be on tlie mountain's side ; these 
silken tresses the playthings of the unconfined winds 



262 PALKNER. 

While I thought that I should speedily be liberated, I was 
willing to enjoy the comfort of your society ; but now I, the 
murderer, am not a fit mate for you. I am accursed, and pull 
disaster down on all near me. I was born to destroy the 
young and beautiful." 

With such talk they tried to baffle this fierce visitation of 
adversity. Falkner told her that on that day it would be de- 
cided whether the trial should take place at once, or time 
be given to send for Osborne from America. The turn Ne- 
ville had given to his evidence had been so favourable to the 
accused as to shake the prejudice against him, and it was 
believed that the judges would at once admit the necessity 
of waiting for so material a witness ; and yet their first and 
dearest hope had been destroyed, so they feared to give way 
to a new one. 

As they conversed, the solicitor entered with good tidings. 
The trial was put off till the ensuing assizes in March, to 
give time for the arrival of Osborne. The hard dealing of 
destiny and man relented a little, and despair receded from 
their hearts, leaving space to breathe, to pray, to hope. No 
time was to be lost in sending for Osborne. Would he come ■? 
It could not be doubted. A free pardon was to be extended 
to him ; and he would save a fellow-creature, and his former 
benefactor, without any risk of injury to himself. 

The day closed, therefore, more cheeringly than it had 
begun. Falkner conquered himself, even to a show of 
cheerfulness ; and recalled the colour to his tremulous com- 
panion's cheeks, and half a smile to her lips, by his encour- 
agement. He turned her thoughts from the immediate 
subject, narrating the events of his first acquaintance with 
Osborne, and describing the man ; a poltron, but kindly 
hearted — fearful of his own skin to a contemptible extent, 
but looking up with awe to his superiors, and easily led 
by one richer and of higher station to any line of con- 
duct; an inborn slave, but with many of a slave's good 
qualities. Falkner did not doubt that he would put him- 
self eagerly forward on the present occasion ; and what- 
ever his evidence were good for, it would readily be pro- 
duced. 

There was no reason, then, for despair. While the shock 
they had undergone took the sting from the present — fear- 
ing an immediate and horrible catastrophe — the wretched- 
ness of their actual state was forgotten — it acquired comfort 
and security by the contrast — each tried to clieer the other, 
and they separated for the night with apparent comi)osure. 
Yet that night Elizabeth's pillow, despite her earnest en- 
deavours to place reliance on Providence, was watered 
by the bitterest tears that ever such young eyes slied ; and 
Falkner told eacli hour of the livelong night, as his memory 
retraced past scenes, and his spirit writhed and bled to feel 



FALKNER. 263 

that, ill tlie wantonness and rebellion of youth, he had 
been the author of so wide-spreading, so dark a web of 
misery. 

From this time their days were spent in that sort of mo- 
notony which has a peculiar charm to the children of adversity. 
The recurrence of one day after the other, none being 
marked by disaster, or indeed any event, imparted a satis- 
faction, gloomy indeed, and sad, but grateful to the heart 
wearied by many blows, and by the excitement of mortal 
hopes and fears. The mind adapted itself to the new state 
of things, and enjoyments sprung up in the very home of 
desolation — circumstances that, in happier days, were but 
the regular routine of life, grew into blessings from Heav- 
en ; and the thought, " Come what will, this hour is safe," 
made precious the mere passage of time — months Avere 
placed between them and the dreaded crisis- — and so are we 
made, that when once this is an established, acknowledged 
fact, we can play on the eve of danger almost like the un- 
conscious animal destined to bleed. 

Their time was regularly divided, and occupations suc- 
ceeded one to another. Elizabeth rented apartments not far 
from the prison. She gave the early morning hours to ex- 
ercise, and the rest of the day was spent in Falkner's prison. 
He read to her as she worked at the tapestry frame, or she 
took the book while he drew or sketched ; nor was music 
wanting, such as suited the subdued tone of their minds, and 
elevated it to reverence and resignation ; and sweet still 
hours were spent near their fire ; fer their hearth gleamed 
cheerfully, despite surrounding horrors — gayety was absent, 
but neither was the voice of discontent heard; all repinings 
were hidden in the recesses of their hearts ; their talk was 
calm, abstracted from matters of daily life, but gifted with 
the interest that talent can bestow on all it touches. 
Falkner exerted himself chiefly to vary their topics, and to 
enliven them by the keenness of his observations, the beauty 
of his descriptions, and the vividness of his narrations. He 
spoke of India, they read various travels, and compared the 
manners of different countries — they forgot the bars that 
checkered the sunlight on the floor of the cell — they for- 
got the cheerless gloom of each surrounding object. Did 
they also forget the bars and bolts between them and free- 
dom^ the thoughtful tenderness which had become the 
habitual expression of f]lizabeth's face — the subdued man- 
ner and calm tones of Falkner were a demonstration that 
they did not. Something they were conscious of at each 
minute, that checked the free pulsations of their hearts ; a 
word in a book, brought by some association home to her 
feehngs, would cause Elizabeth's eyes to fill with unbidden 
tears — and proud scorn would now and then dilate the breast 



264 FALKNER. 

of Falkner, as he read some story of oppression, and felt, 
" I also am persecuted, and must endure." 

In this position they each grew uimtterably dear to the 
other — every moment, every thought, was full to both of 
the image of either. There is something inexpressibly 
winning in beauty and grace — it is a sweet blessing when 
our household companion charms our senses by the love- 
liness of her person, and makes the eye gladly turn to her, 
to be gratified by such a form and look as we would travel 
miles to see depicted on canvass. It soothed many a spasm 
of pain, and turned many an hour of suffering into placid 
content, when Falkner watched the movements of his 
youthful friend. You might look in her face for days, and 
still read something new, something sublime in the holy 
calm of her brow, in her serious, yet intelligent eyes ; while 
all a woman's softness dwelt in the moulding of her cheeks 
and her dimpled mouth. Each word she said, and all she 
did, so became her, that it appeared the thing best to be 
said and done — and was accompanied by a fascination, both 
for eye and heart, which emanated from her purity and 
truth. Falkner grew to worship the very thought of her. 
She had not the wild spirits and trembling sensibility of her 
he had destroyed, but in her kind she was no way inferior. 

Yet though each, as it were, enjoyed the respite given 
by fortune to their worst fears, yet this very sense of tran- 
sitory security was in its essence morbid and unnatural. 
A fever preyed nightly on Falkner, and there were ghastly 
streaks upon his brow that bespoke internal suffering and 
decay. Elizabeth grew paler and thinner — her step lost ita 
elasticity, her voice became low-toned — her eyes were ac- 
quainted with frequent tears, and the lids grew heavy and 
dark. Both lived for ever in the presence of misery — they 
feared to move or speak, lest they should awaken the mon- 
ster, then for a space torpid ; but they spent their days 
under its shadow — the air they drew was chilled by its icy 
influence — no wholesome liglit-liearted mood of mind was 
ever theirs — they might pray and resign themselves, they 
might congratulate themselves on the safety of the passing 
moment; but each sand that flowed from the hourglass 
was weighed — each thought that passed through the brain 
was examined — every word uttered was pondered over. 
They were exhausted by the very vividness of their un- 
sleeping endeavours to blunt their sensations. 

The hours were very sad that they spent apart. The 
door closed on Elizabeth, and love, and hope, and all the 
pride of life vanished with her. Falkner was again a pris- 
oner, an accused felon — a man over whom impended the 
most hideous fate — whom the dogs of law barked round, 
and looked on as their prey. His high heart often quailed. 
He laid his head on his pillow, desiring never again to raise 



FALKNER. 265 

it — despair kept his lids open tlie livelong nights, while 
naught but palpable darkness brooded over his eyeballs ; 
he rose languid — dispirited — revolving thoughts of death; 
till at last she came who by degrees dispelled the gloom, 
and shed over his benighted soul the rays of her pure spirit. 

Slie also was miserable in solitude ; the silent evening 
hours spent apart from him were melancholy and drear. 
Nothing interrupted their stillness. She felt deserted by 
every human being, and was indeed reduced to the extrem- 
ity of loneliness. In the town and neighbourhood many 
pitied, many admired her, and some offered their services ; 
but none visited or tried to cheer the soHtary hours of the 
devoted daughter. As the child of a man accused of mur- 
der, there was a barrier between her and the world. The 
English are generous to their friends, but they are never 
kind to strangers ; the tie of brotherhood, which Christ 
tauglit as uniting all mankind, is unacknowledged by them. 
They so fear that their sullen fireside should be unduly in- 
vaded, and so expect to be ill-treated, that each man makes 
a Martello tower of his home, and keeps watch against the 
gentler charities of hfe, as from an invading enemy. Hour 
after hour, therefore. Elizabeth spent — thought her only 
companion. 

From Falkner and his miserable fortunes, sometimes her 
reflections strayed to Gerard Neville — the generous friend 
on whom she wholly relied, yet who could in no way aid 
or comfort her. They were divided. He thought of her, 
she knew : his constant and ardent disposition would cause 
her to be for ever the cherished object of his reveries ; and 
now and then, as she took her morning ride, or looked from 
her casement at night upon the high stars, and pale, still 
moon, Nature spoke to her audibly of him, and her soul 
overflowed with tenderness. Still he was far — no word 
from him reached her — no token of living remembrance. 
Lady Cecil also — she neither wrote nor sent. The sense 
of abandonuieut is hard to bear, and many bitter tears did 
the young sufferer shed — and many a yearning had she to 
enter, with her ill-starred father, the silent abode of the 
tomb — scarcely more still or dark than the portion of life 
which was allotted to them, even while existence was warm 
in their hearts, and the natural impulse of their souls was 
to seek sympathy and receive consolation. 
23 M 



266 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XLIII. 

The varied train of hopes and fears which belonged to the 
situation of the prisoner and his faithful young companion, 
stood for some time suspended. In some sort, they might 
be said neither to hope nor fear; for, reasoning calmly, they 
neither expected that the worst would befall ; and the actual 
and impending evil was certain. Like shipwrecked sailors, 
who have betaken themselves to a boat, and are tossed ifpon 
a tempestuous sea, they saw a ship nearing ; they believed 
that their signal was seen, and that it was bearing down 
towards them. What if, with sudden tack, the disdainful 
vessel should turn its prow aside, and leave them to the 
mercy of the waves. They did not anticipate such a com- 
pletion to their disasters. 

Yet, as time passed, new anxieties occurred. Falkner's 
solicitor, Mr. Colville, had despatched an agent to America * 
to bring Osborne over. The pardon promised ensured his 
coming; and yet it was impossible not to feel inquietude 
with regard to his arrival. Falkner experienced least of this. 
He felt sure of Osborne, his creature ; the being whose life 
he had heretofore saved, whose fortunes he had created. 
He knew his weakness, and how easily he was dealt with. 
The mere people of business were not so secure. Osborne 
enjoyed a comfortable existence, far from danger — why 
should he come over to place himself in a disgraceful situa- 
tion, to be branded as a pardoned felon? In a thousand 
ways he might evade the summons. Perhaps there was 
nothing to prove that the Osborne whom Hoskins named 
was the Osborne who had been employed by Falkner, and 
was deemed an accessory in Mrs. Neville's death. 

Hillary, who had been sent to Washington in September, 
had written immediately on his arrival. His passage had 
been tedious, as autumnal voyages to America usually are ; 
he did not arrive till the last day of October ; he announced 
that Osborne was in the town, and that on the morrow he 
should see him. This letter had arrived towards the end of 
November, and there was no reason wherefore Hillary and 
Osborne should not quickly follow it. But November pass- 
ed away, and December had be):;uii, and still the voyagers 
did not arrive; the southwest wind continued to reign with 
slight variation ; except tliat as winter advanced it became 
more violent: packets perpetually arrived in Liverpool from 
America, after passages of seventeen and twenty days ; but 
Hillary did not return, nor did he write. 

The woods were despoiled of their leaves ; but still the 



FALKNER. 267 

air was warm and pleasant ; and it cheered Elizabeth, as 
favourable to her hopes : the sun shown at intervals, and the 
misty mornings were replaced by cheerful days. Elizabeth 
rode out each morning, and this one day, the sixteenth of 
December, she found a new pleasure in her solitary exer- 
cise. The weather was calm and cheerful; a brisk canter 
gave speed to the current of her blood ; and her thoughts, 
though busy, had a charm in them that she was half angry with 
herself for feeling, but which glowed all warm and bright, de- 
spite every effort. On the preceding evening she had observ- 
ed on her return home at nine o'clock from the prison, the 
figure of a man, which passed her hastily, and then stood 
aloof, as if guarding and watching her at a distance. Once, 
as he stood under an archway, a flickering lamp threw his 
shadow across her path. It was a bright moonhght night, and 
as he stood in the midst of an open space, near which her 
house was situated, she recognised, inuffled as he was, the 
form of Gerard Neville. No wonder, then, that her heart was 
lightened of its burden ; he had not forgotten her — he could 
no longer command himself to absence ; if he might not con- 
verse with her, at least he might look upon her as she passed. 

On the same morning she entered her father's prison-room 
— she found two visiters already there, Colville and his agent, 
Hillary. The faces of both were long and serious. Eliza- 
beth turned anxiously to Falkner, who looked stern and dis- 
dainful. He smiled when he saw her, and said, "You must 
not be shocked, my love, at the news which these gentle- 
men bring. I cannot tell how far it influences my fate; but 
it is impossible to believe that it is irrevocably sealed by it. 
But who can express the scorn that a man must feel, to 
know that so abject a poltron wears the human form. Os- 
borne refuses to come." 

Such an announcement naturally filled her with dismay. 
At the request of Falkner, Hillary began again to relate the 
circumstances of his visit to America. He recounted, that 
finding that Osborne was in Washington, he lost no time in 
securing an interview. He delivered his letters to him, and 
said that he came from Mr. Falkner, on an affair of life and 
death. At the name, Osborne turned pale ; he seemed afraid 
of opening the letters, and muttered something about there 
being a mistake. At length he broke the seals. Fear, in 
its most abject guise, blanched his cheek as he read, and his 
hand trembled so that he could scarcely hold the paper. 
Hillary, perceiving at last that he had finished reading, and 
was hesitating what to say. began himself to enter on the 
subject ; when, faltering and stammering, Osborne threw the 
letter down, saying, " I said there was a mistake — 1 know 
nothing — all this affair is new to me — I never had concern 
with Mr. Falkner — I do not know who Mr. Falkner is." 

But for the pale quivering lips of the man, and his tremu- 
M3 



268 FALKNER. 

lous voice, Hillary might have thought that he spoke truth ; 
but he saw that cowardice was the occasion of the lie he 
told, and he endeavoured to set before him the perfect safe- 
ty with which he might comply with the request he con- 
veyed. But the more he said, Osborne, gathering assurance, 
the more obstinately denied all knowledge of the trans- 
actions in question, or their principal actor. He changed, 
warmed by his own words, from timid to impudent, in his 
denials, till Hillary's conviction began to be shaken a little; 
and at the same time he grew angry, and cross-questioned 
him, with a lawyer's art, about his arrival in America ; ques- 
tions which Osborne answered with evident trepidation. 
At last, he asked him if he remembered such and such a 
house, and such a journey, and the name of his companion 
on the occasion ; and if he recollected a person of the name 
of Hoskins. Osborne started at the word as if he had been 
shot. Pale he was before, but now his cheeks grew of a 
chalky white, his limbs refused to support him, and his voice 
died away ; till, rousing himself, he pretended to fly into a 
violent passion at the insolence of the intrusion and miper- 
tinence of the question^. As he spoke, he unwarily betray- 
ed that he knew more of the transaction tlian he would wil- 
lingly have allowed; at last, after running on angrily and 
incoherently for some time, he suddenly broke away, and 
(they were at a tavern) left the room, and also the house. 

Hillary hoped that, on deliberation, he would come to his 
senses. He sent the letters after him to his house, and 
called the next day ; but he was gone ; he had left Wash- 
ington the evening before, by the steamer to Charles- 
town. Hillary knew not what to do. He applied to the 
government authorities; they could afford him no help. He 
also repaired to Charlestown. Some time he spent in 
searching for Osborne — vainly ; it appeared plain that he 
travelled under another name. At length, by chance, he 
found a person who knew him personall5% ^^o said that he 
had departed a week before for New-Orleans. It seemed 
useless to make this further journey, yet Hillary made it, 
and with like ill-success. Whether Osborne was concealed 
in that town ; whether he had gone to Mexico, or lurked in 
the neighbouring country, could not be discovered. Time 
wore away in fruitless researches, and it became necessary 
to come to a decision. Hopeless of success, Hillary thought 
it best to return to f]ngland — with the account of his failure 
— so that no time might be lost in providing a remedy, if 
any could be found, to so fatal an injury to their cause. 

While this tale was being told, Falkner had leisure to 
recover from that boiling of the blood which the first ap- 
prehension of unworthy conduct in one of our fellow-crea- 
tures is apt to excite, and now spoke with his usual com- 
posure. " I cannot beheve," he said, '' that this man's evi- 



FALKNER. 269 

dence is of the import which is supposed. No one, ia 
fact, believes that I am a murderer; every one knows that 
I am innocent. All that we have to do is to prove this in 
a sort of technical and legal manner ; and yet hardly that 
— for we are not to address the deaf ear of law, but the 
common sense of twelve men, who will not be slow, I feel 
assured, in recognising the truth. All that can be done to 
make my story plain, and to prove it by circumstances, of 
course must be done ; and I do not fear but that, when it is 
ingenuously and simply told, it will suffice for my acquittal." 

" It is right to hope for the best," said Mr. Colville ; " but 
Osborne's refusal to come is, in itself, a bad fact ; the pros- 
ecutor will insist much upon it — I would give a hundred 
pounds to have him here." 

" I would not give a hundred pence," said Falkner, dryly. 

The other stared — the observation had an evil effect on 
his mind ; he fancied that his client was even glad that a 
witness so material refused to appear, and this to him had 
the aspect of guilt. He continued, " I am so far of a dif- 
ferent opinion, that I should advise sending a second time. 
Had you a friend sufficiently zealous to undertake a voyage 
across the Atlantic for the purpose of persuading Os- 
borne — " 

" I would not ask him to cross a ditch for the purpose," 
interrupted Falkner, with some asperity. " Let such men 
as would believe a dastard like Osborne in preference to a 
gentleman and a soldier, take my life, if they will. It is 
not worth this pains in my own eyes — and thirsted for 
by my fellow-men, it is a burden I would willingly lay 
down." 

The soft touch of Elizabeth's hand placed on his recalled 
liim — he looked on her tearful eyes, and became aware of 
his fault — he smiled to comfort her. " I ought to apologize 
to these gentlemen for my hastiness," he said, " and to 
you, my dear girl, for my apparent trifling — but there is a 
degradation in these details that might chafe a more placid 
temper. I cannot, I will not descend to beg my life ; I am 
innocent ; this all men must know, or at least will know, 
when their passions are no longer in excitement against me 
— I can say no more — I cannot win an angel from heaven 
to avouch my guiltlessness of her blood — I cannot draw 
this miserable fellow from his cherished refuge. All must 
fall on my own shoulders — 1 must support the burden of 
my fate ; I shall appear before my judges ; if they, seeing 
me, and hearing me speak, yet pronounce me guilty, let 
them look to it — I shall be satisfied to die, so to quit at 
once a blind, bloodthirsty world!" 

The dignity of Falkner as he spoke these words, the 
high, disdainful, yet magnanimous expression of his fea- 
tm-es, the clear though impassioned tone of his voice, 
23* 



270 PALKNER. 

thrilled the hearts of all. " Thank God, I do love this man 
even as he deserves to be loved," was the tender sentiment 
that lighted up Elizabeth's eyes; Mobile his male auditors 
could not help, both by countenance and voice, giving token 
that they were deeply moved. On taking their leave soon 
after, Mr. Colville grasped Falkner's hand cordially, and 
bade him rest assured that his zeal, his utmost endeavours 
should not be wanting to serve him. " And," he added, in 
obedience rather to his newly-awakened interest than his 
judgment, " I cannot doubt but that our endeavours will be 
crowned with complete success." 

A man of real courage always finds new strength vmfold 
within him to meet a larger demand made upon it. Falkner 
was now, perhaps, for the first time, thoroughly roused to 
meet the evils of his lot. He threw off every natural, 
every morbid sensibility, and strung himself at once to a 
higher and firmer tone of mind. He renounced the brittle 
hopes before held out to him — of this or that circumstance 
being in his favour — he intrusted unreservedly his whole 
cause to the miglity irresistible Power who niles human af- 
fairs, and felt calm and free. If by disgrace and death he 
were to atone for the destruction of his victim, so let it be — 
the hour of suffering would come, and it would pass away — and 
leaving him a corpse, the vengeance of his fellow-creatures 
would end there. He felt that the decree for life or death 
having received already the irrefragable fiat — he was pre- 
pared for both ; and he resolved from that hour to drive all 
weak emotions, all struggle, all hope or fear from his soul. 
" Let God's will be done!" sometlung of Christian resigna- 
tion — something (derived from his Eastern life) of belief in 
fatality — and something of philosophic fortitude, composed 
the feeling that engraved this sentiment in his heart in in- 
effaceable characters. 

He now spoke of Osborne to Elizabeth without acrimony. 
" My indignation against that man was all thrown away," 
he said ; " we do not rebuke the elements when they de- 
stroy us, and why should we spend our anger against men ? 
— a word from Osborne, they say, would save me — the fal- 
ling of the wind, or the allaying of the waves, would have 
saved Alithea — both are beyond our control. I imagined 
in those days tbat I could guide events — till suddenly the 
reins were torn from my hands. A few months ago I ex- 
ulted, in expectation that the penalty demanded for my 
crime would be the falling by the hands of her son — and 
here I am an imprisoned felon! — and now we fancy that 
this thing or that might preserve me ; while in truth all is 
decreed, all registered, and we must patiently await the ap- 
pointed time. Come wluit may, I am prepared — I'rom this 
hour I have taught my spirit to bend, and to be content to 
die. When all is over, men will do me justice, and that 



FALKNEU. .j^ 271 

poor follow will bitterly lament his cowardice. It will be 
agony to him to remember that one word would have pre- 
served my life then, when no power on earth can recall me 
to existence. He is not a bad man — and could he now have 
represented to him his after remorse, he would cease to 
exliibit such lamentable cowardice — a cowardice, after all, 
that has its origin in the remnants of good feeling. The 
fear of shame ; horror at having participated in so fearful a 
tragedy ; and a desire to throw oft' the consequences of his 
actions, which is the perpetual and stinging accompaniment 
of guilt, form his motives ; but could he be told how im- 
measurably his sense of guilt will be increased if his si- 
lence occasions my death, all these would become minor 
considerations, and vanish on the instant." 

" And would it be impossible," said Elizabeth, " to awa- 
ken this feeling in him !" 

" By no means," replied Falkner ; " though it is out of 
our power. We sent a mercenary, not indeed altogether 
lukewarm, but still not penetrated by that ardour, nor ca- 
pable of that eloquence, which is necessary to move a weak 
man, like the one he had to deal with. Osborne is, in some 
sort, a villain ; but he is too feeble-minded to follow out his 
vocation. He ahvays desired to be honest. Now he has 
the reputation of being such ; from being one of those mis- 
erable creatures, the refuse of civilization, preying upon 
the vices, while they are the' outcasts of society, he has 
become respectable and trustworthy in the eyes of others. 
He very naturally clings to advantages dearly earned — 
lately gained. He fancies to preserve them by deserting 
me. Could the veil be lifted — could the conviction be im- 
parted of the wretch he will become in his own eyes, and 
of the universal execration that will be heaped on him after 
my death, his mind would entirely change, and he would 
be as eager, I had almost said, to come forward, as now he 
is set upon concealment and silence." 



CHAPTER XLIV. 

Elizabeth listened in silence. All that had passed made 
a deep impression — from the moment that the solicitor had 
expressed a wish that Falkner had a zealous friend to cross 
the Atlantic — till now, that he himself dilated on the good 
that would result from representations being clearly and fer- 
vently made to Osborne, she was revolving an idea that ab- 
sorbed her whole faculties. 

This idea was no other than going to America herself. 



'^^^^9BL FALKNER. 

She had no doubt that, seeing Osborne, she could persuade 
him, and the difficulties of the journey appeared slight to 
her who had travelled so much. She asked Falkner many 
questions, and his answers confirmed her more and more 
in her plan. No objection presented itself to her mmd; al- 
ready she felt sure of success. There was scarcely time, it 
was true, for the voyage ; but she hoped that the trial might 
be again deferred, if reasonable hopes were held out of Os- 
borne's ultimate arrival. It was painful to leave Falkner 
without a friend, but the object of her journey was para- 
mount even to this consideration ; but it must, it should be 
undertaken. Still she said nothing of her scheme, and Falk- 
ner could not guess at what was passing in her mind. 

Wrapped in the revery suggested by such a plan, she re- 
turned home in the evening, without thinking of the appari- 
tion of Neville, which had so filled her mind in the morning. 
It was not till at her own door that the thought glanced 
through her mind, and she remembered that she had seen 
nothing of him — she looked across the open space where 
he had stood the evening before. It was entirely vacant. 
She felt disappointed and saddened ; and she began to re- 
flect on her total friendlessness — no one to aid her in prep- 
arations for her voyage — none to advise — her sole resource 
was in hirelings. But her independent, firm spirit quickly 
threw off this weakness, and she began a note to Mr. Col- 
ville, asking him to call on her, as she wished to arrange 
everything definitively before she spoke to Falkner. As she 
wrote, she heard a rapid, decided step in her quiet street, 
followed by a hurried yet gentle knock at her door. She 
started up. " It is he !" the words were on her lips, when 
Gerard entered ; she held out her hand, gladness thrilling 
through her whole frame, her heart throbbing wildly — her 
eyes lighted up with joy. " This is indeed kind," she cried. 
" Oh, Mr. Neville, how happy your visit makes me !" 

He did not look happy ; he had grown paler and thinner, 
and the melancholy which had sat on his countenance be- 
fore, banished for a time by her, had returned, with the ad- 
dition of a look of wildness, that reminded her of the youth 
of Baden ; Elizabeth was shocked to remark these traces of 
suffering ; and her next impulse was to ask, " What has 
happened? I fear some new misfortune has occurred." 

" It is the property of misfortune to be ever new," he re- 
plied, "to be always producing fresh and more miserable 
results. I have no right to press my feelings on you ; your 
burden is sufficient ; but I could not refrain any longer from 
seeing in what way adversity had exerted its pernicious in- 
fluence over you." 

His manner was gloomy and agitated ; she, resigned, de- 
voted to her duties ; commanding herself, day by day, to ful- 
fil her task of patience, and of acquiring cheerfulness for 



PALKNER. 273 

Falkner's sake ; she imagined that some fresh disaster must 
be the occasion of these marks of emotion. She did not 
know tliat fruitless struggles to alleviate the evils of her sit- 
uation, vain broodings over its horrors, and bitter regret at 
losing her, had robbed him of sleep, of appetite, of all re- 
pose. " I despise myself for my weakness," he said, " when 
I see your fortitude. You are more than woman, more than 
human being ever was, and you must feel the utmost con- 
tempt for one whom fortune bends and breaks as it does 
me. You are well, however, and half my dreams of misery 
have been false and vain. God guards and preserves you : 
I ought to have placed more faith in him." 

" But tell me, dear Mr. Neville, tell me, what has hap- 
pened ]" 

" Nothing !" he replied ; " and does not that imply the 
worst ] I cannot make up my mind to endure the visitation 
of ill fallen upon us ; it drives me from place to place like 
an unlaid ghost. I am very selfish to speak in this manner. 
Yet it is your sufferings that fill my mind to bursting ; were 
all the evil poured on my own head, while you were spared, 
welcome, most welcome would be the bitterest infliction ! 
but you, Elizabeth, you are my cruel father's victim, and the 
future will be more hideous than the hideous present!" 

Elizabeth was shocked and surprised ; what could he 
mean 1 •' The future," she replied, " will bring my dear fa- 
ther's liberation ; how then can that be so bad !" 

He looked earnestly and inquiringly on her. " Yes," she 
continued, " my sorrows, heavy as they are, have not that 
additional pang ; I have no doubt of the vdtimate justice that 
will be rendered my father. We have much to endure in 
the interim, much that undermines the fortitude and visits 
the heart with sickening throes ; there is no help but pa- 
tience ; let us have patience, and this adversity will pass 
awa)' ; the prison and the trial will be over, and freedom and 
security again be ours." 

'• I see how it is," replied Neville ; " we each live in a 
world of our own, and it is wicked in me to give you a 
glimpse of the scene as it is presented to me." 

" Yet speak ; explain !" said Elizabeth ; " you have fright- 
ened me so much that any explanation must be better than 
the thoughts which your words, your manner, suggest." 

"NajV'said Neville, "do not let my follies infect you. 
Your views, your hopes, are doubtless founded on reason. 
It is, if you will forgive the allusion that may seem too light 
for so sad a subject, but the old story of the silver and bra- 
zen shield. I see the dark, the fearful side of things ; I live 
among your enemies — that is, the enemies of Mr. Falkner. 
I hear of notliing but his guilt, and the expiation prepared 
for it. I am maddened by all I hear. 

" I have implored my father not to pursue his vengeance- 
M 3 



274 PALKNER. 

Convinced as I am of the truth of Mr. Falkner's narration, 
the idea that one so gifted should be made over to the fate 
that awaits him is abhorrent ; and when I think that you 
are involved in such a scene of wrong and horror, my blood 
freezes in my veins. I have implored my father, I have 
quarrelled with him, I have made Sophia advocate the cause 
of justice against malice ; all in vain. Could you see the 
old man — my father I mean ; pardon my irreverence — how 
he revels in the demoniacal hope of revenge, and with what 
hideous delight he gloats upon the detail of ignominy to be 
inflicted on one so much his superior in every noble quality, 
you would feel the loathing I do. He heaps sarcasm and 
contempt on my feeble spirit, as he names my pardon of 
my motlicr's destroyer, my esteem for him, and my sym- 
pathy for you ; but that does not touch me. It is the knowl- 
edge that he will succeed, and you be lost and miserable 
for ever, that drives me to desperation. 

" I fancied that these thoughts must pursue you even 
more painfully than they do me. I saw you writhing be- 
neath the tortures of despair, wasting away under the in- 
fluence of intense misery. You haunted my dreams, ac- 
companied by every image of horror — sometimes you were 
bleeding, ghastly, dying — sometimes you took my poor 
mother's form, as Falkner describes it, snatched cold and 
pale from the waves — other visions flitted by, still more 
frightful.' Despairing of moving my father, abhorring the 
society of every human being, I have been living for the 
last month at Dromore. A few days ago my father arrived 
there. I wondered till I heard the cause. The time for 
expecting Osborne had arrived. As vultures have instinct 
for carrion, so he swooped down at the far off scent of evil 
fortune ; he had an emissary at Liverpool, on the watch to 
hear of this man's arrival. Disgusted at this foul appetite 
for evil, I left him. I came here — only to see you, to gaze 
on you afar, was to purify the world of the ' blasts from 
heir which the bad passions I have so long contemplated 
spread round me. My father learned whitlier I had gone ; 
I had a letter from him this morning — you may guess at its 
contents." 

" He triumphs in Osborne's refusal to appear," said Eliz- 
abeth, who was much moved by the picture of hatred and 
malice Neville had presented to her; and trembled from 
head to foot as she listened, from the violent emotions his 
account excited, and the vehemence of his manner as he 
spoke. 

" He does indeed triumph," replied Neville ; " and you — 
you and Mr. Falkner, do you not despair I" 

" If you could see my dear father," said Elizabeth, her 
courage returning at the thought, " you would see how in- 
nocence and a noble mind can sustain ; at the worst, he 



FALKNER. 275 

does not despair. He bears the present with fortitude, he 
looks to the future with resignation. His soul is firm, his 
spirit inflexible." 

" And you share these feelings V 

" Partly I do, and partly I have other thoughts to support 
me. Osborne's cowardice is a grievous blow, but it must 
be remedie;!. The man we sent to bring him was too easily 
discouraged. Other means must be tried. I shall go to 
America, I shall see Osborne, and you cannot doubt of my 
success." 

" You V cried Neville ; "you to go to America 1 you to 
follow the traces of a man who hides himself! Impossible ! 
This is worse madness than all. Does Falkner consent to 
so senseless an expedition 1" 

" You use strong expressions," interrupted Elizabeth. 

" I do," he replied ; " and I have a right to do so — I beg 
your pardon. But my meaning is justifiable — you must not 
undertake this voyage. It is as useless as improper. Sup- 
pose yourself arrived on the shores of wide America. You 
seek a man wiio conceals himself, you know not w^here : 
can you perambulate large cities, cross v^ride extents of 
country, go from town to town in search of him ? It is by 
personal exertion alone that he can be found; and your age 
and sex wholly prevent that." 

" Yet I shall go," said Elizabeth, thoughtfully ; " so much 
is left undone, because we fancy it impossible to do ; which, 
upon endeavour, is found plain and easy. If insurmountable 
obstacles oppose themselves, I must submit, but I see none 
yet ; I have not the common fears of a person whose life 
has been spent in one spot ; I have been a traveller, and 
know that, but for the fatigue, it is as easj^ to go a thousand 
miles as a hundred. If there are dangers and difficulties, 
they will appear light to me, encountered for my dear 
father's sake." 

She looked beautiful as an angel as she spoke ; her inde- 
pendent spirit had nothing rough in its texture. It did not 
arise from a love of opposition, but from a belief that, in 
fulfilling a duty, she could not be opposed or injured. Her 
fearlessness was that of a generous heart, that could not 
believe in evil intentions. She explained more fully to her 
friend the reasons that induced her determination. She re- 
peated Falkner's account of Osborne's character, the injury 
that it was believed would arise from his refusal to appear, 
and the probable facility of persuading him. were he ad- 
dressed by one zealous in the cause. 

Neville listened attentively. She paused — he was lost in 
thought, and made no reply — she continued to speak, but 
he continued mute, till at last she said, " You are conquered, 
I know — you yield, and "agree that my journey is a duty, a 
necessity." 



276 FALKNER. 

"We are both apt, it would seem," he replied, " to see 
our duties in a strong light, and to make sudden, or they 
may be called rash, resolutions. Perhaps we both go too 
far,' and are in consequence reprehended by those about us : 
in each other, then, let us find approval — you must not go 
to America, for your going would be useless — with all your 
zeal you could not succeed. But I will go. Of course this 
act will be treated as madness, or worse, by Sir Boyvill and 
the rest — but my own mind assures me that I do right. 
For many years I devoted myself to discovering my mother's 
fate. I have discovered it. Falkner's narrative tells all. 
But clear and satisfactory as that is to me, others choose 
to cast frightful doubts over its truth, and conjure up images 
the most revolting. Have they any foundation 1 I do not 
believe it — but many do — and all assert that the approach- 
ing trial alone can establish the truth. This trial is but a 
mockery, unless it is fair and complete — it cannot be that 
without Osborne. Surely, then, it neither misbecomes me 
as her son, nor as the son of Sir Boyvill, to undertake any 
action that will tend to clear up the mystery. 

" I am resolved — I shall go — be assured that I shall not 
return without Osborne. You will allow me to take your 
place, to act for you — you do not distrust my zeal V 

P^lizabeth had regarded her own resolves as the simple 
dictates of reason and duty. But her heart was deeply 
touched by Neville's offer ; tears rushed into her eyes as 
she replied, in a voice faltering with emotion, "I fear this 
cannot be ; it will meet with too much opposition ; but 
never, never can I repay your generosity in but imagining 
so great a service." 

" It is a service to both," he said ; " and as to the opposi- 
tion I shall meet, that is my affair. You know that nothing 
will stop me when once resolved. And I am resolved. The 
inner voice that cannot be mistaken assures me that I do 
right — I ask no other approval. A sense of justice, per- 
haps of compassion, for the original author of all our 
wretchedness, ought probably to move me ; but I W'ill not 
pretend to be better than I am ; were Falkner alone con- 
cerned, I fear I should be lukewarm. But not one cloud, 
nor the shadow of a cloud, shall rest on my mother's fate. 
All shall be clear, all universally acknowledged ; nor shall 
your life be blotted and your heart broken by the wretch- 
ed fate of him to whom you cling with matchless fidel- 
ity. He is innocent, I know; but if the world thinks and 
acts by him as a murderer, how could you look up again 1 
Through you I succeeded in my task ; to you I owe un- 
speakable gratitude, which it is my duty to repay. Yet, 
away with such expressions. You know that my desire to 
serve you is boundless ; that I love you beyond expression ; 
that every injury you receive is trebled upon me — that vain 



FALKNER. 277 

were every effort of self-command ; I must do that thing 
that would benefit you, though the whole world rose to for- 
bid. You are of more worth in your innocence and noble- 
ness, than a nation of men such as my father. Do you 
think I can hesitate in my determinations thus founded, thus 
impelled ?" 

More vehement, more impassioned than Elizabeth, Ne- 
ville bore down her objections, while he awakened all her 
tenderness and gratitude : " Now I prove myself your 
friend," he said, proudly ; " now Heaven affords me oppor- 
tunity to serve you, and I thank it." 

He looked so happy, so wildly delighted, while a more 
still but not less earnest sense of joy filled her heart. They 
were young, and they loved — this of itself was bliss ; but 
the cruel circumstances around them added to their happi- 
ness by drawing them closer together, and giving fervour 
and confidence to their attachment ; and now that he saw a 
mode of serving her, and she felt entire reliance on his ef- 
forts, the last veil and barrier fell from between them, and 
their hearts became united by that perfect love which caii 
result alone from entire confidence and acknowledged un- 
shackled sympathy. 

Always actuated by generous impulses, but often rash in 
his determinations, and impetuous in their fulfilment; full 
of the warmest sensibility, hating that the meanest thing 
that breathed should endure pain, ;tnd feeling the most poig- 
nant sympathy for all suffering, Neville had been maddened 
by his own thoughts, while he brooded over the position in 
which Elizabeth was placed. Not one of those various 
circumstances that alleviate disaster to those who endure 
it, presented themselves to his imagination — he saw adver- 
sity in its most hideous form, without relief or disguise — 
names and images appending to Falkner's frightful lot, 
which he and Elizabeth carefully banished from their 
thoughts, haunted him. The fate of the basest felon hung 
over the prisoner — Neville believed that it must inevitably 
fall on him ; he often wondered that he did not contrive to 
escape ; that Elizabeth, devoted and heroic, did not contrive 
some means of throwing open his dungeon's doors. He 
had endeavoured to open his father's eyes, to soften his 
heart, in vain. He had exerted himself to discover wheth- 
er any trace of long past circumstances existed that might 
tend to acquit Falkner. He had gone to Treby, visited the 
graves of the hapless parents of Elizabeth, seen Mrs. Baker, 
and gathered there the account of his landing ; but nothing 
helped to elucidate the mystery of his mother's death; 
Falkner's own account was the only trace left behind ; that 
bore the stamp of truth in every line, and appeared to him 
so honourable a tribute to poor Alithea's memory, that he 
looked with disgust on Ills father's endeavours to cast upon 
24 



278 FALKNER. 

it suspicions and interpretations the most hideous and ap- 
palling. 

In the first instance, he had been bewildered by Sir Boy- 
vill's sophistry, and half conquered by his plausible argu- 
ments. But a short time, and the very circumstance of 
Elizabeth's fidehty to his cause sufficed to show him the 
baseness of his motives, and the real injury he did his 
mother's fame. 

Resolved to clear the minds of other men from the pre- 
judice against the prisoner thus spread abroad, and at least 
to secure a fair trial, Neville made no secret of his belief 
that Falkner was innocent. He represented him every- 
where as a gentleman — a man of humanity and honour — 
whose crime ought to receive its punishment from his own 
conscience, and at the hand of the husband or son of the 
victim in the field; and whom, to pursue as his father did, 
was at once futile and disgraceful. Sir Boyvill, irritated by 
Falkner's narrative ; his vanity wounded to the quick by 
the avowed indifference of his wife, was enraged beyond 
all bounds by the opposition of his son. Unable to under- 
stand his generous nature, and relying on his previous zeal 
for his mother's cause, he had not doubted but that his re- 
venge would find a' ready ally in him. His present argu- 
ments, his esteem for their enemy, his desire that he should 
be treated with a forbearance which, between gentlemen, 
was but an adherence to the code of honour — appeared to 
Sir Boyvill insanity, and worse — a weakness the most des- 
picable, a want of resentment the most low-minded. But 
he cared not — the game was in his hands — revelling in the 
idea of his enemy's ignominious suff'erings, he more than 
half persuaded himself that his accusation Avas true, and 
that the punishment of a convicted felon would at last sat- 
isfy his thirst for revenge. A feeble old man, tottering on 
the verge of the grave, he gloried to think that his grasp 
was still deadly, his power acknowledged in throes of agony, 
by him by whom he had been injured. 

Returning to Dromore from Carlisle, Gerard sought his 
father. Osborne's refusal to appear crowned Sir Boyvill's 
utmost hopes; and his sarcastic congratulations, when he 
saw his son, expressed all the malice of his heart. Gerard 
replied with composure, that he did indeed fear that this 
circumstance would prove fatal to the course of justice ; but 
that it must not tamely be submitted to, and that he himself 
was going to America to induce Osborne to come, that no- 
thing might be wanting to elucidate the mystery of his 
mother's fate, and to render the coming trial full, fair, and 
satisfactory. Such an announcement rendered, for a mo- 
ment. Sir Boyvill speechless with rage. A violent scene 
ensued. Gerard, resolved, and satisfied of the propriety of 
his resolution, was calm and firm. Sir Bovvill, habituated 



FALKNER. 279 

to the use of vituperative expressions, boiled over with 
angry denunciations and epithets of abuse. He called his 
son tlie disgrace of his family — the opprobrium of mankind — 
the detractor of his mother's fame. Gerard smiled ; yet, at 
heart, he deeply felt the misery of thus for ever finding an 
opponent in his father, and it required all the enthusiasm 
and passion of his nature to banish the humiliating and sad- 
dening influence of Sir Boyvill's indignation. 

They parted worse friends than ever. Sir Boyvill set out 
for town ; Gerard repaired to Liverpool. The wind was con- 
trary — there was little hope of change. He thought that it 
would conduce to his success in America, if he spent the 
necessary interval in seeing Hoskins again ; and also in con- 
sulting with his friend, the American minister ; so, in all haste, 
having first secured his passage on board a vessel that was 
to sail in four or five days, he also set out for London. 



CHAPTER XLV. 

The philosophy of Falkner was not proof against the in- 
telligence that Gerard Neville was about to undertake the 
voyage to America for the sake of inducing Osborne to 
come over. Elizabeth acquainted him with her design, and 
her friend's determination to replace her, with sparkling 
eyes, and cheeks flushed by the agitation of pleasure — the 
pure pleasure of having such proof of the worth of him 
she loved. Falkner was even more deeply touched ; even 
though he felt humiliated by the very generosity that fiUed 
him with admiration. His blood was stirred, and his feel- 
ings tortured him by a sense of his own demerits, and the 
excellence of one he had injured. " Better die without a 
word, than purchase my life thus !" were the words hover- 
ing on his lips — yet it was no base cost that he paid — and 
he could only rejoice at the virtues of the son of her whom 
he had so passionately loved. Tiiere are moments when 
the past is remembered with intolerable agonv ; and when 
to alter events, which occurred at the distance of many 
years, becomes a passion and a thirst. His regret at Ali- 
thea's marriage seemed all renewed — his agony that tlience- 
forth she was not to be the half of his existence, as he had 
hoped ; that her child was not his child ; that her daily life, 
her present pleasures, and future hopes were divorced 
from his — all these feelings were revived, together with a 
burning jealousy, as if, instead of being a buried corpse, 
she had still adorned her home with her loveliness and vir- 
tues. 



280 FALKNER. 

Such thoughts lost their poignancy by degrees, and he 
could charm Elizabeth by dwelling on Gerard's praises ; 
and he remarked with pleasure that she resumed her viva- 
•city, and recovered the colour and elasticity of motion, 
which she had lost. She did not feel less for Falkner ; but 
her contemplations had lost their sombre hue — they were 
full of Neville — his voyage — his exertions — his success — 
his return ; and the spirit of love that animated each of 
these acts were gone over and over again in her waking 
dreams ; unbidden smiles gleamed in her countenance ; her 
ideas were gayly coloured, and her conversation gained a 
variety and cheerfulness that lightened the burden of their 
prison hours. 

Meanwhile Neville arrived in London. He visited the 
American minister, and learned from him that Osborne had 
given up the place he held, and had left Washington — no 
one knew wliither he was gone — these events being still 
too recent to leave any trace behind. It was evident that 
to seek and find him would be a work of trouble and time, 
and Neville felt that not a moment must be lost — Decem- 
ber was drawing to a close. The voyages to and from 
America might, if not favourable, consume the whole inter- 
val that still remained before the spring assizes. Hoskins, 
he learned, was gone to Liverpool. 

He visited Lady Cecil before he left town. Though 
somewhat tainted by worldliness, yet this very feeling made 
her highly disapprove Sir Boyvill's conduct. A plausible, 
and, she believed, true account was given of Mrs. Neville's 
death — exonerating her — redounding indeed to her honour. 
It was injurious to all to cast doubts upon this tale — it was 
vulgar and base to pursue revenge with such malicious and 
cruel pertinacity. Falkner was a gentleman, and deserved 
to be treated as such; and now he and Elizabeth were 
mixed up in loathsome scenes and details, that made Lady 
Cecil shudder even to think of. 

That Gerard should go to America as the advocate, as it 
were, of Falkner, startled her ; but he represented his voy- 
age in a simpler hght, as not being undertaken for his bene- 
fit, but for the sake of justice and truth. Sir Boyvill came 
in upon tliem while they were discussing this measure. He 
was absolutely phrensied by his son's conduct and views ; his 
exasperation but tended to disgust, and did not operate to 
shake their opinions. 

Neville hastened back to Liverpool; a southwest wind 
reigned, wliose violence prevented any vessel from sailing 
for America ; it was evident that the passage would be long, 
and perhaps hazardous. Neville thought only of the delay ; 
but this made him anxious. A portion of his time was 
spent in seeking for Hoskins ; but he was not to be found. 
At last it was notified to him that the wind had a little 



FALKNER. 281 

changed, and that the packet was about to sail. He hurried 
on board — soon they were tossing on a tempestuous sea — 
they lost sight of land — sky and ocean, each dusky, and the 
one rising at each moment into more tumultuous commo- 
tion, surrounded them. Neville, supporting himself by a 
rope, looked out over the horizon — a few months before ho 
had anticipated the same voyage over a summer sea — now 
he went under far other auspices — the veil was raised — the 
mystery explained ; but the wintry storms that had gatherefl 
round him were but types of the tempestuous passions 
which the discoveries he had made raised in the hearts of 
all. 

For three days and nights the vessel beat about in the 
Irish Channel, unable to make any way — three days were 
thus lost to their voyage — and when were they to arrive ? 
Impatient — almost terrified by the delay which attended his 
endeavours, Neville began to despair of success. On the 
fourth night the gale rose to a hurricane — there was no 
choice but to run before it — by noon the following day the 
captain thought himself very lucky to make the harbour of 
Liverpool ; and though the gale had much abated, and the 
wind had veered into a more favourable quarter, it was ne- 
cessary to run in to refit. With bitter feelings of disappoint- 
ment, Neville disembarked ; several days must elapse be- 
fore the packet would be able to put to sea, so he abandon- 
ed the idea of going by her — and finding a New- York mer- 
chantman preparing to sail at an early hour the following 
morning, he resolved to take his passage on board. He 
hastened to the American coffee-house to see the captain, 
and make the necessary arrangements for his voyage. 

The captain had just left the tavern ; but a waiter came 
up to Neville, and told him that the Mr. Hoskins, concern- 
ing whom he had before inquired, was in the house — in a 
private room. " Show me to him," said Neville, and follow- 
ed the man as he went to announce him. 

Hoskins was not alone — he had a friend with him, and 
they were seated over their wine on each side of the fire. 
Neville could not help being struck with the confusion 
evinced by both as he entered. The person with Hoskins 
was a fair, light-haired, rather good-looking man, though 
past the prime of life — he had at once an expression of good- 
nature and cunning in his face, and, added to this, a timid, 
baffled look — which grew into something very like dismay 
when the waiter announced " Mr. Neville." 

" Good-morning, sir," said Hoskins ; " I hear that you 
have been inquiring for me. I thought all our business was 
settled." 

" On your side, probably," replied Neville ; " on mine I 
hav& reasons for wishing to see you. I have been seeking you 
in vain in London and here." 
24* 



S82 FALKNER. 

" Yes, I know," said the other, " I went round by Raven- 
glass to take leave of the old woman before I crossed — and 
here I am, my passage taken, with not an hour to lose. I 
sail by the Owyhee, Captain Bateman." 

" Then we shall have time enough for all my inquiries," 
observed Neville. " I came here for the very purpose of 
arranging my passage with Captain Bateman." 

" You, sir ! are you going to America ] I thought that 
was all at an end. ' 

" It is more necessary than ever. I must see Osborne 
— I must bring him over — his testimony is necessary to 
clear up the mystery that hangs over my mother's fate." 

" You are nearer hanging Mr. Falkner without him than 
with him," said Hoskins. 

" I would bring him over for the very purpose of saving 
a man whom I believe to be innocent of the crime he is 
charged with ; for that purpose I go to America. I wish 
the truth to be established — I have no desire for revenge." 

" And do you really go to America for that purpose V* 
repeated Hoskins. 

" Certainly — I consider it my duty," replied Neville. 
" Nay, it may be said that I went for this design, for I 
sailed by the John Adams — which has been driven back 
by contrary winds. I disembarked only half an hour ago." 

" That beats all !" cried Hoskins. " Why, do you know 
— I have more than half a mind to tell you — you had really 
sailed for America for the purpose of bringing Osborne 
over, and you now intend taking a passage on board the 
Owyhee V 

" Certainly ; why not ] What is there so strange in all 
this ? I sought you for the sake of making inquiries that 
might guide me in my search for Osborne, who wishes to 
conceal himself." 

" You could not have addressed a better man — by the 
Lord ! He's a craven, and deserves no better ; so I'll just 
let out, Mr. Neville, that Osborne sneaked out of this room 
at the instant he saw you come into it." 

Neville had seen Hoskins's companion disappear — he 
thought it but an act of civility — the strangeness of this 
coincidence, the course of events at once so contrary and 
so propitious, staggered him for a moment. " They tell of 
the rattlesnake," said Hoskins, " that, fixing its eye on its 
prey, a bird becomes fascinated, and Avheels round nearer 
and nearer till he falls into the jaws of the enemy — poor 
Osborne ! He wishes himself on the sliores of the Pacific, 
to be far enough off — and here he is, and turn and twist as 
he will, it will end by the law grasping him by the shoulder, 
and dragging him to the very noose he. so fears to slip into ; 
not that he helped to murder the lady — you do not believe 
that, Mr. Neville !— you do not think that the lady was 
murdered V 



FALKNER, 283 

'' I would stake my existence that she was not," said Ne- 
ville ; " were it otherwise, I should have no desire to see 
Osborne, or to interfere. Strange, most strange it is, that 
he should be here ; and he is come, you think, with no de- 
sign of offering his testimony to clear Mr. Falkner ]" 

" He is come under a. feigned name," replied Hoskins ; 
" under pretence that he was sent by Osborne — he has 
brought a quantity of attested declarations, and hopes to 
seiTC Mr. Falkner without endangering his own neck." 

It was even so. Osborne was a weak man, good-hearted, 
as it is called, but a craven. No sooner did he hear that 
Hillary had sailed for Europe, and that he might consider 
himself safe, than he grew uneasy on another score. He 
had still possession, even while he had denied all knowledge 
of the writer, of Falkner's letter, representing to him the 
necessity of coming over. It was simply but forcibly 
written ; every word went to the heart of Osborne, now 
that he believed that his conduct would make over his gen- 
erous benefactor to an ignominious end. This idea haunted 
him like an unlaid ghost ; yet, if they hanged Falkner, what 
should prevent them from hanging him too ? suspicion must 
fall equally on both. 

When Hillary had urged the case, many other objections 
had presented themselves to Osborne's mind. He thought 
o[ the new honest course he had pursued so long, the hon- 
ourable station he had gained, the independence and respect- 
ability of his present life ; and he shrunk from giving up 
these advantages, and becoming again, in all men's eyes, 
the Osborne whose rascality he had left behind in England ; 
it seemed hard that he should feel the weight of the chain 
that bound his former existence to his present one, when 
he fondly hoped that time had broken it. But these minor 
considerations vanished as soon as the idea of Falkner's 
danger fastened itself on his mind. It is always easy to 
fall back upon a state of being which once was ours. The 
uncertain, disreputable life Osborne had once led, he had 
gladly bidden adieu to ; but the traces were still there, and 
he could fall into the way of it without any great shock. 
Besides this, he knew that Hillary had made his coming, 
and the cause of it, known to the legal authorities in Wash- 
ington ; and though he might persist in his denials, still he 
felt that he should be universally disbelieved. 

A dislike at being questioned and looked askance upon by 
his American friends made him already turn his eyes west- 
ward. A longing to see the old country arose unbidden in 
his heart. Above all, he could neither rest, nor sleep, nor 
eat, nor perform any of the offices of life, for the haunting 
image of his benefactor, left by him to die a felon's death. 
Not that he felt tempted to alter his determination, and to 
come forward to save him : on the contrary, his blood grew 



284 PALKNER. 

chill, and his flesh shrunk at the thought ; but still he 
might conceal himself in England ; no one would suspect 
him of being there ; he would be on the spot to watch the 
course of events ; and if it was supposed that he could 
render any assistance, without compromising himself, he 
should at least be able to judge fairly how far he might con- 
cede : his vacillating mind could go no further in its conclu- 
sions. Hoskins had rightly compared him to the bird and the 
rattlesnake. He was fascinated ; he could not avoid draw- 
ing nearer and nearer to the danger which he believed to be 
yawning to swallow him ; ten days after Hillary left Amer- 
ica, he was crossing the Atlantic. Hoskins was the first 
person he saw on landing, the second was Neville. His 
heart grew cold; he felt himself in the toils ; how bitterly 
he repented his voyage. Coward as he was, he died a 
thousand deaths from fear of that one which, in fact, there 
was no danger of his incurring. 

That Osborne should of his own accord have come to 
England appeared to smooth everything. Neville did not 
doubt that he should be able to persuade him to come for- 
ward at the right time. He instructed Hoskins to reas- 
sure him, and to induce him to see him ; and, if he ob- 
jected, to contrive that they should meet. He promised to 
take no measures for securing his person, but to leave him 
in all liberty to act as he chose ; he depended that the same 
uneasy conscience that brought him ft-om America to Liver- 
pool woidd induce him at last, after various throes and 
struggles, to act as it was supposed he would have done at 
the beginning. 

But day after day passed, and Osborne was not to be 
found : Hoskins had never seen him again, and it was im- 
possible to say whither he was gone or where he was hid. 
The Owyhee, whose voyage had again been delayed by 
contrary winds, now sailed. Hoskins went with her. It 
was possible that Osborne might be on board, returning to 
the land of refuge. Neville saw the captain, and he denied 
having such a passenger ; but he might be bound to secrecy, 
or Osborne might have disguised himself. Neville went on 
board ; he carefully examined each person ; he questioned 
both crew and passengers ; he even bribed the sailors to in- 
form him if any one were secreted. The Owyhee was 
not, however, the only vessel sailing ; nearly thirty packets 
and merchantmen, who had been detained by foul winds, 
were but waiting for a tide to carry them out. Neville de- 
liberated whether he should not apply to a magistrate for a 
search-warrant. He was averse to this — nay, repugnant. 
It was of the first importance to the utility of Osborne as a 
witness, that he should surrender himself voluntarily. The 
seizing him by force, as an accomplice in the murder, would 
only place him beside Falkner m the dock, and render 



FALKNER. 285 

his evidence of no avail ; and his, Neville's, causing his ar- 
rest, could only be regarded as a piece of rancorous hostil- 
ity against the accused ; yet to suffer him to depart from 
the English shores was madness ; and worse still, to be left 
in doubt of whether he had gone or remained. If the first 
were ascertained, Neville could take his passage also, and 
there might still be time to bring him back. 

When we act for another, we are far more liable to hesi- 
tation than when our deeds regard ourselves only. We 
dread to appear lukewarm ; we dread to mar all by ofB- 
ciousness. Ill-success always appears a fault, and yet we 
dare not make a bold venture — such as we should not hesi- 
tate upon were it our own cause. Neville felt certain that 
Falkner would not himself deliberate, but risk all to possess 
himself of the person of Osborne ; still he dared not take so 
perilous, perhaps so fatal, a step. 

The tide rose, and the various docks filled. One by one 
the American-bound vessels dropped out and put to sea. 
It was a moment of agony to Neville to see their sails un- 
furl, swell to the wind, and make a speedy and distant 
offing. He now began to accuse himself bitterly of neglect 
— he believed that there was but one mode of redeeming 
his fault — to hurry on board one of the packets, and to 
arrive in America as soon as Osborne, whom, he felt con- 
vinced, was already on his way thither. Swift in his con- 
victions, rash in execution, uncertainty was peculiarly hos- 
tile to his nature ; and these moments of vacillation and 
doubt, and then of self-reproach at having lost all in conse- 
quence, were the most painful of his life. To determine 
to do something was some consolation, and now he resolved 
on his voyage. He hurried back to his hotel for a few ne- 
cessaries and money. On his entrance, a letter was put 
into his hands — the contents changed the whole current of 
his ideas. His countenance cleared up — the tumult of his 
thoughts subsided into a happy calm. Changing all his 
plans, instead of undertaking a voyage to America, he the 
same evening set out for London. 



CHAPTER XLVI. 

The prisoner and his faithful companion knew nothing of 
these momentous changes. Day by day Elizabeth with- 
drew from the fire to the only window in her fathers room ; 
moving her embroidery table close to it, her eyes turned, 
however, to the sky, instead of to the flowers she was work- 
ing ; and leaning her cheek upon her hand, she perpetually 



286 FALKNER. 

watched the clouds. Gerard was already, she fancied, on the 
waste of waters ; yet the clouds did not change their direc- 
tion — they all sped one way, and that contrary to his desti- 
nation. Thus she passed her mornings ; and when she re- 
turned to her own abode, where her heart could more en- 
tirely spend its thoughts on her lover and his voyage, her 
lonely room was no longer lonely, nor the gloomy season 
any longer gloomy. More than happy — a breathless rapture 
quickened the beatings of her heart, as she told over again 
and again Neville's virtues, and, dearer than all, his claims 
on her gratitude. 

Falkner saw with pleasure the natural effects of love and 
hope add to the cheerfulness of his beloved child, dilTuse a 
soft charm over her person, her motions, and her voice, and 
impart a playful tenderness to her before rather serious 
manners. Youth, love, and happiness are so very beautiful 
in their conjunction. " God grant," he thought, " I do not 
mar this fair creature's life — may she be happier than Ali- 
thea; if man can be worthy of her, Gerard Neville surely is." 
As he turned his eyes silently from the book that apparently 
occupied him, and contemplated her pensive countenance, 
whose expression showed that she was wrapped in, yet enjoy- 
ing her thoughts, retrospect made him sad. He went over 
his own life, its clouded morning, the glad beams that broke 
out to dissipate those clouds, and the final setting amid tern-' 
pests and wreck. Was all life like this, must all be disap- 
pointed hope, baffled desires, lofty imaginations engender- 
ing fatal acts, and bringing the proud thus low ] would she 
at his age view life as he did — a weary wilderness — a 
tangled, endless labyrinth, leading by one rough path or an- 
other to a bitter end ? He hoped not, her innocence must 
receive other reward from Heaven. 

It was on a day as they were thus occupied — Falkner 
refrained from interrupting Elizabeth's revery, which he felt 
was sweeter to her than any converse — and appeared ab- 
sorbed in reading ; suddenly she exclaimed, " The wind has 
changed, dear father ; indeed it has changed, it is favoura- 
ble now. Do you not feel how much colder it is 1 the wind 
has got to the north, there is a little east in it ; his voyage 
will not be a long one if this change only lasts !" 

Falkner answered her by a smile ; but it was humiliating 
to think of the object of that voyage, and her cheerful voice 
announcing that it was to be prosperous struck, he knew 
not why, a saddening chord. At this moment he heard the 
bolts of the chamber-door pushed back, and the key turn in 
the lock — the turnkey entered, followed by another man, 
who hesitated as he came forward, and then, as he glanced 
at the inhabitants of the room, drew back, saying, "There 
is some mistake ; Mr. Falkner is not here." 

But for his habitual self-command, Falkner had started 



FALKNER. 287 

up, and made an exclamation — so surprised was he to be- 
hold the person wiio entered — for he recognised his visitant 
on the instant — he himself was far more changed by the 
course of years ; time, sickness, and remorse had used other 
tlian Praxitilean art, and had defaced the lines of grace and 
power which had marked him many years ago, before his 
hands had dug Alithea's grave. He was indeed surprised 
to see who entered ; but he showed no sign of wonder, only 
saying with a calm smile, " No, there is no mistake, I am 
the man you seek." 

The other now apparently recognised him, and advanced 
timidly, and in confusion — the turnkey left them, and Falk- 
ner then said, " Osborne, you deserve my thanks for this, 
but I did believe that it would come to this." 

" No," said Osborne, " I do not deserve thanks — I — " 
and he looked confused, and glanced towards Elizabeth. 
Falkner followed his eye, and understanding his look, said, 
" You do not fear being betrayed by a lady, Osborne; you 
are safe here as in i\ merica. I see how it is, you are here 
mider a false name ; no one is aware that you are the man 
who a few weeks ago refused to appear to save a fellow- 
creature from death." 

" I see no way to do that now," replied Osborne, hesi- 
tatingly ; " I do not come for that, I come— I could not stay 
away — I thought something might be done." 

" Elizabeth, my love," said Falkner, " you at least will 
thank Mr. Osborne for his spontaneous services — you are 
watching the clouds which were to bear along the vessel 
towards him, and beyond our hopes he is already here." 

Elizabeth listened breathlessly — she feared to utter a word, 
lest it should prove a dream — now, gathering Falkner's 
meaning, she came forward, and with all a woman's grace ad- 
dressed the trembling man, who already looked at the door 
as if he longed to be on the other side, fearful that he was 
caught in his own toils ; for, as Hoskins said, the fascinated 
prey had wheeled yet nearer to his fate involuntarily — he 
had been unable to resist his desire to see Falkner, and 
learn how it was with him ; but he still resolved not to risk 
anything; he had represented himself to the magistrates as 
coming from Osborne, showing false papers, and a declara- 
tion drawn up by him at Washington, and attested before 
official men there, setting forth Falkner's innocence ; he had 
brought this over to see if it would serve his benefactor, 
and had thus got access to him : such was his reliance on 
the honour of his patron, that he had not hesitated in placing 
himself in his power, well aware that he should not be de- 
tained by him against his ^^^ll ; for still his heart quailed, 
and his soul shrunk from rendering him the service that 
would save his life. 

His mamier revealed his thoughts to the observant Falk- 



288 FALKNER, 

ner ; but Elizabeth, less well read in men's hearts, younger 
and more sanguine, saw in his arrival the completion of her 
hopes ; and she thanked him with so much warmth, and 
with such heartfelt praises of his kindness and generosity, 
that Osborne began to think that his greatest difficulty would 
be in resisting her fascination and disappointing her wishes. 
He stammered out at last some lame excuses. All he 
could do consistently with safety, they might command ; he 
had shown this by coming over — more could not be asked, 
could not be expected — he himself, God knew, was inno- 
cent, so was Mr. Falkner, of the crime he was charged with. 
But he had no hand whatever in the transaction ; he was not 
in his confidence ; he had not known even who the lady 
was ; his testimony, after all, must be worth nothing, for he 
had nothing to tell, and for this he was to expose himself to 
disgrace and death. 

Acquiring courage at the sound of his own voice, Osborne 
grew lluent. Elizabeth drew back — she looked anxiously 
at Falkner, and saw a cloud of displeasure and scorn gather 
over his countenance — she put her hand on his, as if to check 
the outbreak of his indignation ; yet she herself, as Osborne 
went on, turned her eyes flashing with disdain upon him. 
The miserable fellow cowed before the glances of both ; he 
shifted from one foot to the other ; he dared not look up ; 
but he knew that their eyes were on him, and he felt the 
beams transfix him, and wither up his soul. There are 
weak men who yield to persuasion ; there are weaker who 
are vanquished by reproaches and contempt ; of such was 
Osborne. His tluency faded into broken accents ; his voice 
died away — as a last effort, he moved towards the door. 

" Enough, sir," said Falkner, in a calm, contemptuous 
voice ; " and now begone — hasten away — do not stop till 
you have gained the shore, the ship, the waves of the At- 
lantic ; be assured I shall not send for you a second time ; 
I have no desire to owe my life to you." 

" If I could save your life, Mr. Falkner," he began ; 
" but—" 

" We will not argue that point," interrupted Falkner ; " it 
is enough that it is generally asserted that your testimony 
is necessary for my preservation. Were my crime as 
great as it is said to be, it would find its punishment in that 
humiliation. Go, sir ; you are safe ! I would not advise 
you to loiter here, return to America; walls have ears in 
abodes like these; you maybe forced to save a fellow-crea- 
ture against your will; hasten then away; go, eat, drink, 
and be merry — whatever betides me, not even my ghost 
shall haunt you. Meanwhile, 1 would beg you no longer to 
insult me by your presence — begone at once." 

" You are angry, sir," said Osborne, timidly. 

" 1 hope not," replied Falkner, who had indeed felt his 



FALKNER. 289 

indignation rise, and checked himself; "I should be very 
sorry to feel anger against a coward ; I pity you — you will 
repent this when too late." 

" Oh, do not say so," cried Elizabeth ; " do not say he 
will repent when too late — but now, in time, I am sure that 
he repents ; do you not, Mr. Osborne '\ You are told that 
your fears are vain; you know Mr. Falkner is far too noble 
to draw you into danger to save himself — you know even 
that he does not fear death, but ignominy, eternal, horrible 
disgrace ; and the end, the frightful end prepared, even he 
must recoil from that — and you — no, you cannot in cold 
blood, and with calm forethought, make him over to it — 
you cannot, I see that you cannot — " 

" Forbear, Elizabeth !" interrupted Falkner, in a tone of 
displeasure ; " I will not have my life, nor even my honour, 
begged by you ; let the worst come, the condemnation, the 
hangman — 1 can bear all, except the degradation of suppli- 
cating such a man as that." 

" I see how it is," said Osborne. " Yes — you do with me 
as you will — I feared this, and yet I thought myself firm ; 
do with me as you will — call the jailer — I will surrender 
myself." He turned pale as death, and tottered to a chair. 

Falkner turned his back on him — " Go, sir!" he repeated, 
" I reject your sacrifice." 

" No, father, no," cried Elizabeth, eagerly ; " say not so 
—you accept it — and I also, with thanks and gratitude : yet 
it is no sacrifice, Mr. Osborne — I assure you that is not, at 
least, the sacrifice you fear — all is far easier than you tliink 
— there is no prison for you — your arrival need not yet be 
known — your consent being obtained, a pardon will be at 
once granted — you are to appear as a witness — not as a — " 
her voice faltered — she turned to Falkner, her eyes brim- 
ming over with tears. Osborne caught the infection ; he was 
touched — he was cheered also by Elizabeth's assurances, 
which he hoped that he might believe ; hitherto he had been 
too frightened and bewildered to hear accurately even what 
he had been told — he fancied that he must be tried — the par- 
don might or might not come afterward — the youth, earn- 
estness, and winning beauty of Elizabeth moved him ; and 
now that his fears were a little allayed, he could see more 
clearly, he was even more touched by the appearance of 
his former benefactor. Dignity and yet endurance — suffer- 
ing as well as fortitude — marked his traits ; there was some- 
thing so innately noble, and yet so broken by fortune, ex- 
pressed in his commanding yet attenuated features and per- 
son — he was a wreck that spoke so plainly of the glorious 
being he had once been ; there was so much majesty in his 
decay — such real innocence sat on his high and open brow, 
streaked though it was with disease — such lofty composure 
in his countenance, pale from confinement and suffering — 
25 N 



290 PALKNER. 

that Osborne felt a mixture of respect and pity that soon 
rose above every other feeling. 

Reassured with regard to himself, and looking on his pa- 
tron with eyes that caught the infection of Elizabeth's tears, 
he came forward — "I beg your pardon, Mr. Falkner," he 
said, " for my doubts — for my cowardice, if you please so to 
name it ; I request you to forget it, and to permit me to 
come forward in your behalf I trust you will not disdain 
my offer; though late, it comes, I assure you, from my 
heart." 

There was no mock dignity about Falkner ; a sunny 
smile broke over his features as he held out his hand to 
Osborne. " And from my heart I thank you," he replied, 
" and deeply regret that you are to suffer any pain through 
me — mine was the crime, you the instrument ; it is hard, 
very hard, that you should be brought to this through your 
complaisance to me ; real danger for you there is none — 
or I would die this worst death rather than expose you to 
it." 

Elizabeth now, in all gladness, wrote a hasty note ; de- 
siring Mr. Colville to come to them, that all might at once 
be arranged. " And Gerard, dear father," she said, " we 
must write to Mr. Neville, to recall him from his far and 
fruitless journey." 

" Mr. Neville is in Liverpool," said Osborne ; " I saw 
him the very day before I came away — he doubtless was 
on the look-out for me, and I dare swear Hoskins betrayed 
me. We must be on our guard — " 

" Fear nothing from Mr. Neville," replied Elizabeth ; 
"he is too good and generous not to advocate justice and 
truth. He is convinced of my father's innocence." 

They were interrupted — the solicitor entered — Osborne's 
appearance was beyond his hopes — he could not believe in 
so much good fortune. He had begun to doubt, suspect, 
and fear — he speedily carried off his godsend, as he named 
him, to talk over, and bring into form his evidence, and all 
that appertained to his surrender — thus leaving Falkner 
with his adopted child. 

Such a moment repaid for much ; for Elizabeth's hopes 
were high, and she knelt before Falkner, embracing his 
knees, thanking Heaven in a rapture of gratitude. He also 
was thankful ; yet mortification and wounded pride strug- 
gled in his heart with a sense of gratitude for unhoped-for 
preservation. His haughty spirit rebelled against the obli- 
gation he owed to so mean a man as Osborne. It required 
hours of meditation — of reawakened remorse for Alithea's 
fate — of renewed wishes that she should be vindicated be- 
fore all the world — of remembered love for the devoted 
girl at his feet, to bring him back from the tumult of con- 



FALKNER. 291 

tending passions, to the fortitude and humility which he at 
every moment strove to cultivate. 

Elizabeth's sweet voice dispelled such storms, and re- 
warded him for the serenity he at last regained. It was 
impossible not to feel sympathy in her happiness, and joy 
in possessing the affection of so gentle, yet so courageous 
and faithful a heart. Elizabeth's happiness was even more 
complete when she left him, and sat in her solitary room — 
there, where Gerard had so lately visited her, and his im- 
age, and her gratitude towards him mingled more with her 
thoughts : her last act that night was to write to him, to. 
tell him what had happened. It was her note that he re- 
ceived at Liverpool on the eve of his second departure, and 
which had changed his purpose. He had immediately set 
out for London to communicate the good tidings to Lady 
Cecil. 



CHAPTER XLVII. 

These had been hours of sunshine for the prisoner and 
his child, such as seldom visit the precincts of a jail; and 
soon, too soon, they changed, and the usual gloom returned 
to the abode of suffering. In misfortune various moods as- 
sail us. At first we are struck, stunned, and overwhelmed; 
then the elastic spirit rises ; it tries to shape miseiy in its 
own way ; it adapts itself to it ; it finds unknown consola- 
tions arise out of circumstances which, in moments of pros- 
perity, were unregarded. But this temper of mind is not 
formed for endurance. As a sick person finds comfort in a 
new posture at first, but after a time the posture becomes 
restrained and wearisome ; thus, after mustering fortitude, 
patience, the calm spirit of philosophy, and the tender one 
of piety, and finding relief, suddenly the heart rebels, its 
old desires and old habits recur, and we are the more dis- 
satisfied from being disappointed in those modes of support 
in which we trusted. 

There was a perpetual struggle in Falkner's heart. Ha- 
tred of life, pride, a yearning for libert}'-, and a sore, quick 
spirit of impatience for all the bars and forms that stood be- 
tween him and it, swelled like a tide in his soul. He hated 
himself for having brought himself thus low ; he was angry 
that he had exposed Elizabeth to such a scene ; he reviled 
his enemies in his heart ; he accused destiny. Then, again, 
if he but shut his eyes — the stormy river, the desolate 
sands, and the one fair being dead at his feet, presented 
themselves, and remorse, like a wind, drove back the flood. 
N2 



292 FALKNER. 

He felt that he had deserved it all, that he had himself 
woven the chain of circumstances which he called his fate, 
while his innocence of the crime brought against him im- 
parted a lofty spirit of fortitude, and even of repose. 

Elizabeth, with an angel's love, watched the changes of 
his temper. Her sensibility was often wounded by his suf- 
ferings ; but her benign disposition was so fertile of com- 
passion and forbearance, that her own mood was never ir- 
ritated by finding her attempts to console fruitless. She 
listened meekly when his overladen heart spent itself in 
invectives against the whole system of life ; or, catching a 
favourable moment, she strove to raise his mind to nobler 
and purer thoughts — unobtrusive, but never weary — eagerly 
gathering all good tidings, banishing the ill ; her smiles, her 
tears, her cheerfulness, or calm sadness, by turns relieved 
and comforted him. 

Winter came upon them. It was wild and drear. Their 
abode, far in the north of the island, was cold beyond their 
experience, the dark prison-walls were whitened by snow, 
the bars of their windows were laden ; Falkner looked out, 
the snow drifted against his face, one peep at the dusky 
sky was all that was allowed him ; he thought of the wide 
steppes of Russia, the swift sledges, and how he longed for 
freedom ! Elizabeth, as she walked home through the frost 
and sleet, gave a sigh for the soft seasons of Greece, and 
felt that a double winter gathered round her steps. 

Day by day, time passed on. Each evening returning to 
her solitary fireside, she thought, " Another is gone, the 
time draws near;" she shuddered, despite her conviction 
that the trial would be the signal for the liberation of Falk- 
ner ; she saw the barriers time had placed between him and 
fate fall ofl^" one by one with terror ; January and February 
passed, March had come — the first of March, the very 
month when all was to be decided, arrived. Poor tempest- 
tossed voyagers ! would the wished-for port be gained — ' 
should they ever exchange the uncertain element of danger 
for the firm land of security 1 

It was on the first of March that, returning home in the 
evening, she found a letter on her table from Neville. Poor 
Elizabeth! she loved with tenderness and passion — and yet 
how few of the fairy thoughts and visions of love had been 
hers — love with her was mingled with so dire a tragedy, 
such real oppressive griefs, that its charms seemed crimes 
against her benefactor ; yet now, as she looked on the let- 
ter, and thought, "//wn A«;?i," the rapture of love stole over 
her, her eyes were dimmed by the agitation of dehght, and 
the knowledge that she was loved suspended every pain, 
filling her with soft triumph, and thrilling, though vague ex- 
pectation. 

She broke the seal — there was an inner envelope directed 



FALKNER. 298 

to Miss Raby — and she smiled at the mere thought of the 
pleasure Gerard must have felt in tracing that name — the 
seal, as he regarded it, of their future union ; but when she 
unfolded the sheet, and glanced down the page, her atten- 
tion was riveted by other emotions. Thus Neville wrote : — 

" My own sweet Elizabeth, I write in haste, but doubt is 
so painful, and tidings fly so quickly, that I hope you will 
hear first by means of these lines the new blow fate has 
prepared for us. My father lies dangerously ill. This, I 
fear, will again delay the trial — occasion prolonged impris- 
onment — and keep you still a martyr to those duties you so 
courageously fulfil. We must have patience. We are im- 
potent to turn aside irrevocable decrees, yet when we think 
how much hangs on the present moment of time, the heart 
— my weak heart at least — is wrung by anguish. 

" I cannot tell whether Sir Boyvill is aware of his situa- 
tion — he is too much oppressed by illness for conversation ; 
the sole desire he testifies is to have me near him. Once 
or twice he has pressed my hand, and looked on me with 
affection. I never remember to have received before such 
testimonials of paletnal love. Such is the force of the nat- 
ural tie between us, that I am deeply moved, and would not 
leave him for the whole world. My poor father ! — he has 
no friend, no relative but me ; and now, after so much 
haughtiness and disdain, he, in his need, is like a little child, 
reduced to feel his only support in natural affections. His 
unwonted gentleness subdues my soul. Oh, who would 
rule by power, when so much more absolute a tyranny is 
established through love ! 

" Sophia is very kind — but she is not his child. The 
hour approaches when we should be at Carlisle. What 
will be the result of our absence — what the event of this 
illness 1 1 am perplexed and agitated beyond measure ; in 
a day or two all will be decided : if Sir Boyvill becomes 
convalescent, still it may be long before he can undertake 
so distant a journey. 

" Do not fear that for a moment I shall neglect your in- 
terests ; they are my own. For months I have lived only 
on the expectation of the hour when you should be liber- 
ated from the horrors of your present position ; and the an- 
ticipation of another delay is torture. Even your courage 
must sink, your patience have an end. Yet a little longer, 
my Elizabeth, support yourself, let not your noble heart fail 
at this last hour, this last attack of adversity. Be all that 
you have ever been, firm, resigned, and generous ; in your 
excellence I place all my trust. I will write again very 
speedily, and if you can imagine any service that I can do 
you, command me to the utmost. 1 write by my father's 
bedside ; he does not sleep, but he is still. Farewell — I 
love you ; in those words is summed a life of weal or wo 
25* 



294 FALKIVER. 

for me and for you also, my Elizabeth ! Do not call me 
selfish for feeling thus — even here." 

" Yes, yes," thought Ehzabeth ; " busy fingers are weav- 
ing — the web of destiny is unrolling fast — we may not think, 
nor hope, nor scarcely breathe — we must await the hour — 
death is doing his work — what victim will he select]" 

The intelligence in this letter, communicated on the mor- 
row to all concerned in the coming trial, filled each with 
anxiety. In a very few days the assizes would commence ; 
Falkner's name stood first on the list — delay was bitter, 
yet he must prepare for delay, and arm himself anew with 
resolution. Several anxious days passed — Elizabeth re- 
ceived no other letter — she felt that Sir Boyvill's danger 
was protracted, that Gerard was still in uncertainty — the 
post hour now became a moment of hope and dread — it 
was a sort of harassing inquietude hard to endure ; at 
length a few lines from Lady Cecil arrived — they brought 
no comfort — all remained in the same state. 

The assizes began — on the morrow the judges were ex- 
pected in Carhsle — and already all that bustle commenced 
that bore the semblance of gayety in the rest of the town, 
but which was so mournful and fearful in the jail. There 
were several capital cases ; as Elizabeth heard them dis- 
cussed, her blood ran cold — she hated life, and all its ad- 
juncts : to know of misery she could not alleviate was al- 
ways saddening ; but to feel the squalid, mortal misery of 
such a place and hour brought home to her own heart, was 
a wretchedness beyond all expression, poignant and hid- 
eous. 

The day that the judges arrived, Elizabeth presented 
herself in Falkner's cell — a letter in her hand — her first 
words announced good tidings ; yet she was agitated, tear- 
ful — something strange and awful had surely betided. It was 
a letter from Neville that she held, and gave to Falkner to 
read. 

" I shall soon be in Carlisle, my dearest friend, but this 
letter will outspeed me, and bring you the first intelligence 
of my poor father's death. Thank God, I did my duty by 
him to the last — thank God, he died in peace — in peace with 
me and the whole world. The uneasiness of pain yielded 
at first to torpor, and thus we feared he would die ; but be- 
fore his death he recovered himself an hour or two, and 
though languid and feeble, his mind was clear. How little, 
dear Elizabeth, do we know of our fellow-creatures — each 
shrouded in the cloak of manner — that cloak of various 
dies — displays little of the naked man within. We thought 
my father vain, selfish, and cruel — he was all this, but he 
was something else that we knew not of — he was generous, 
humane, humble — these qualities he hid as if they had been 
vices — he struggled with them—pride prevented hira from 



FALKNER. S96 

recognising them as the redeeming points of a fauhy nature ; 
he despised himself for feeUng them, until he was on his 
deathbed. 

" Then, in broken accents, he asked me, his only son, to 
pardon his mistakes and cruelties — he asked me to forgive 
him, in my dear mother's name — he acknowleged his in- 
justices towards her. ' Would that I might live,' he said ; 
' for my awakened conscience urges me to repair a portion 
of the evils 1 have caused — but it is too late. Strange that 
I should never have given ear to the whisperings of justice 
— though they were often audible — till now, when there is 
no help ! Yet is it so 1 cannot some reparation be made ? 
There is one' — and as he spoke he half raised himself, and 
some of the wonted fire flashed from his glazed eye — but 
he sunk back again, saying, in a low but distinct voice, 
• Falkner — Rupert Falkner — he is innocent, I know and feel 
his innocence — yet I have striven to bring him to the death. 
Let me record my belief that his tale is true, and that Ali- 
thea died the victim of her own heroism, not by his hand. 
Gerard, remember, report these words — save him — his suf- 
ferings have been great — promise me — that I may feel that 
God and Alithea will forgive me, as I forgive him; I act 
now as your mother would have had me act ; I act to please 
her.' 

" I speak it without shame, my eyes ran over with tears, 
and this softening of a proud heart before the remembered 
excellence of one so long dead, so long thought of with 
harshness and resentment, was the very triumph of the 
good spirit of the world ; yet tears were all the thanks 
I could give for several minutes. He saw that I was moved 
— but his strength was fast leaving him, and pressing my 
hand and murmuring, ' My last duty is now performed — I 
will sleep,' he turned away his head ; he never spoke more, 
except to articulate my name, and once or twice, as his 
lips moved, and I bent down to listen, I heard the name of 
my mother breathed at the latest hour. 

" I cannot write more — the trial will take place, I am 
told, immediately — before the funeral. I shall be in Car- 
lisle — all will go well, dear Elizabeth — and when we meet 
again, happier feelings will be ours. God bless you now 
and always, as you deserve." 



296 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER XLVIII. 



All things now assumed an anxious aspect ; all was hur- 
rying to a conclusion. To-morrow the trial was to come on. 
" Security" is not a word for mortal man to use, more es- 
pecially when the issue of an event depends on the opinions 
and actions of his fellow-creatures. Falkner's acquittal 
was probable, but not certain ; even if the impression went 
in general in his favour, a single juryman might hold out, 
and perverseness, added to obstinacy, would turn the scale 
against him. Sickening fears crept over Elizabeth's heart; 
she endeavoured to conceal them ; she endeavoured to smile 
and repeat, " Tiiis is our last day of bondage." 

Falkner cast no thought upon the worst — innocence shut 
out fear. He could not look forward to the ignominy of 
such a trial without acute suffering; yet there was an aus- 
tere composure in his countenance, that spoke of foriitude 
and reliance on a power beyond the limit of human influ- 
ence. His turn had come to encourage Elizabeth. There 
was a nobleness and simplicity of character, common to 
both, that made them very intelligible to each other. Falk- 
ner, however, had long been nourishing secret thoughts 
and plans, of which he had made no mention, till now, the 
crisis impending, he thought it best to lift a portion of the 
veil that covered the future. 

" Yes," he said, in reply to Elizabeth, " to-morrow will 
be the last day of slavery ; I regain my human privileges 
after to-morrow, and I shall not be slow to avail myself of 
them. My first act will be to quit this country. I have 
never trod its soil but to find misery ; after to-morrow I 
leave it for ever." 

Elizabeth started, and looked inquiringly : were her 
wishes, her destiny to have no influence over his plans? he 
knew of the hope, the affection, that rendered England dear 
to her. Falkner took her hand. " You will join me here- 
after, dearest ; but you will in the first instance yield to my 
request, and consent to a separation for a time." 

"Never!" said Elizabeth; "'you cannot deceive me ; you 
act thus for my purposes, and not your own, and you mis- 
conceive everything. We will never part." 

" Daughters when they marry," observed Falkner, "leave 
father, mother, all, and follow the fortunes of their husbands. 
You must submit to the common law of human society." 

" Do not ask me to reason with you and refute your ar- 
giunents," replied Elizabeth ; " our position is different 
from that' of any other parent and child. I vnll not say I 



PALKNER. 

owe you more than daughter ever owed father — perhaps the 
sacred tie of blood may stand in place of the obligations you 
have heaped on me ; but I will not reason ; I cannot leave 
you. Right or wrong in the eyes of others, my own heart 
would perpetually reproach me. I should image your soli- 
tary wanderings, your lonely hours of sickness and suffer- 
ing, and my peace of mind would be destroyed." 

" It is true," said Falkner, " that I am more friendless 
than most men ; yet I am not so weak and womanish that I 
need perpetual support. Your society is dear to me, dearer, 
God, who reads my heart, knows, than liberty or life ; I 
shall return to that society, and again enjoy it ; but, for a 
. time, do not fear but that I can form such transitory ties 
as will prevent solitary suffering. Men and women abound 
who will feel benevolently towards the lonely stranger ; 
money purchases respect; blameless manners win kindness. 
I shall find friends in my need if I desire it, and I shall re- 
turn at last to you." 

"My dearest father," said Elizabeth, "you cannot deceive 
me. I penetrate your motives, but you wholly mistake. You 
would force me also to mistake your character, but I know 
you too well. You never form transitory friendships ; you 
take no pleasure in the ordinary run of human intercourse. 
You inquire ; you seek for instruction ; you endeavour to 
confer benefits ; but you have no happiness except such as 
you derive from your heart, and that is not easily impressed. 
Did you not for many long years continue faithful to one 
idea — adhere to one image — devote yourself to one, one 
only, despite all that separated you ] Did hot the impedi- 
ment you found to the fulfilment of your visions blight your 
whole hfe, and bring you herel Pardon me if I allude to 
these things. I cannot be to you what she was, but you 
can no more banish me from your heart and imagination 
than you could her. I know that you cannot. We are not 
parent and child," she continued, playfully, " but we have a 
strong resemblance on one point — fidelity is our character- 
istic ; we will not speak of this to others, they might think 
that we boasted. I am not quite sure that it is not a defect ; 
at least in some cases, as with you it proved a misfortune. 
To me it can never be such : it repays itself. I cannot leave 
you, whatever befalls. If Gerard Neville is hereafter lost to 
me, I cannot help it ; it would kill me to fall off from you. 
I must follow the natural, the irresistible bent of my char- 
acter. 

" To-morrow, the day after to-morrow, we will speak 
more of this. What is necessary for your happmess, be 
assured, I will fulfil without repining ; but now, dearest 
father, let us not speak of the future now ; my heart is too 
full of the present — the future appears to me a dream never 
to be arrived at. Oh, how more than blessed I shall be when 



^298 PALKNER. 

the future, the long future, shall grow into interest and im- 
portance !" 

They were interrupted. One person came in, and then 
another, and the appalling details of the morrow effectually 
banished all thoughts of plans, the necessity of which Falk- 
ner wished to impress on his young companion. He also 
was obhged to give himself up to present cares. He re- 
ceived all, he talked to all, with a serious but unembarrassed 
air : while Elizabeth sat shuddering by, wiping away her 
tears unseen, and turning her dimmed eyes from one to 
the other, pale and miserable. We have fortitude and res- 
ignation for ourselves ; but when those beloved are in 
peril we can only weep and pray. Sheltered in a dusky 
corner, a httle retreated behind Falkner, she watched, she 
listened to all, and her heart almost broke. " Leave him! 
after this leave him !" she thought, " a prey to such mem- 
ories 1 Oh, may all good angels desert rae when I become 
so vile a wretch !" 

The hour came when they must part. She was not to 
see him on the morrow, until the trial was over ; for her 
presence during the preliminary scenes was neither fitting 
nor practicable. Already great indulgences had been granted 
to the prisoner, arising from his peculiar position, the great 
length of time since the supposed crime had been com- 
mitted, and the impression, now become general, that he 
was innocent. But this had limits — the morrow was to de- 
cide all, and send him forth free and guiltless, or doom him. 
to all the horrors of condemnation and final sufl^ering. 

Their parting was solemn. Neither indulged in grief.* 
Falkner felt composed — Elizabeth endeavoured to assume 
tranquillity ; but her lips quivered, and she could not speak ; 
it was like separating not to meet for years ; a few short 
hours, and she would look again upon his face — but how 
much would happen in the interval I liow mighty a change 
have occurred ! What agony would both have gone through ! 
the one picturing, the other enduring the scene of the mor- 
row ; the gaze of thousands — the accusation — the evidence 
— the defence — the verdict — each of these bearing with it 
to the well-born and refined a barbed dart, pregnant with 
thriUing poison ; ignominy added to danger. How Elizabeth 
longed to express to the assembled world the honour in which 
she held him, whom all looked on as overwhelmed with 
disgrace ; how she yearned to declare the glory she took in 
the ties that bound them, and the affection that she bore ! 
She must be mute — but she felt all this to bursting ; and 
her last words, " Best of men ! excellent, upright, noble, 
generous, God will preserve you and restore you to me !" 
expressed in some degree the swelling emotions of her 
soul. They parted. Night and silence gathered round 
Falkner's pillow. With stoical firmness he banished retro- 



FALKNER. 299 

Bpect — he banished care. He laid his hopes and fears at the 
feet of that Almighty power, who holds earth and all it con- 
tains in the hollow of his hand, and he would trouble him- 
self no more concerning the inevitable though unknown de- 
cree. His thoughts were at first solemn and calm ; and 
then, as the human mind can never, even in torture, fix 
itself unalterably on one point, milder and more pleasing 
reveries presented themselves. He thought of himself as 
a wild yet not worthless schoolboy — he remembered the 
cottage porch clustered over with odoriferous parasites, 
under whose shadow sat-the sick, pale lady, with her starry 
eyes and wise lessons, and her radiant daughter, whose soft 
hand he held as they both nestled close at her feet. He 
recalled his wanderings with that daughter over hill and 
dale, when their steps were light, and their hearts unbur- 
dened with a care, soared to that heaven which ber blessed 
spirit had already reached. Oh, what is life, that these 
dreams of youth and innocence should have conducted her 
to an untimely grave — him to a felon's cell ! The thought 
came with a sharp pang ; again he banished it, and the land 
of Greece, his perils, and his wanderings with Elizabeth on 
the shores of Zante, now replaced his other memories. 
He then bore a burden on his heart, which veiled with dark 
crape the glories of a sunny climate, the heart-cheering 
tenderness of his adopted child — tliis was less bitter, this 
meeting of fate, this atonement. Sleep crept over him at 
last ; and such is the force of innocence, that though a cloud 
of agony hung over his awakening, yet he slept peacefully 
on the eve of his trial. 

Towards morning his sleep became less tranquil. He 
moved — he groaned — then, opening his eyes, he started up, 
struggling to attain full consciousness of where he was, and 
wherefore. He had been dreaming — and he asked himself 
what had been the subject of his dreams. Was it Greece 
— or the dreary waste shores of Cumberland] And why 
did that fair lingering shape beckon him ] Was it Alithea 
or Elizabeth ? Before these confused doubts could be sol- 
ved, he recognised the walls of the cell, and saw the shad- 
ow of the bars of his windows on the curtain spread be- 
fore it. It was morning — the morning — where would an- 
other sun find him ! 

He rose and drew aside the curtain — and there were the 
dark, high walls — weather-stained and huge ; clear, but sun- 
less daylight was spread over each object — it penetrated 
every nook, and yet was devoid of cheer. There is indeed 
something inexpressibly desolate in the sight of the early, 
gray, chill dawn dissipating the shadows of night, when the 
day which it liarbingers is to bring misery. Night is a 
cloak — a shelter — a defence — all men sleep at night — the 
law sleeps, and its dread ministrants are harmless in their 



300 FALKNER. 

beds, hushed like cradled children. " Even now they sleep," 
thought Falkner, " pillowed and curtained in luxury — but 
day is come, and they will soon resume their offices — and 
drag me before them — and wherefore 1 — because it is day— 
because it is Wednesday — because names have been given to 
portions of time, which otherwise might be passed over and 
forgotten." 

To the surgeon's eye a human body sometimes presents 
itself merely as a mass of bones, muscles, and arteries— 
though that human body may contain a soul to emulate 
Shakspeare — and thus there are moments when the wretch- 
ed dissect the forms of life — and contemplating only the 
outward semblance of events, wonder how so much power 
of misery, or the reverse, resides in what is after all but 
sleeping or waking — walking here or walking there — seeing 
one fellow-creature instead of another. Such were the 
morbid sensations that absorbed Falkner as day grew clearer 
and clearer — the narrow court more gloomy as compared 
with the sky, and the objects in his cell assumed their natu- 
ral colour and appearances. '• All asleep," he again thought, 
" except I, the sufferer ; and does my own Elizabeth sleep ? 
Heaven grant it, and guard her slumbers ! May those dear 
eyes long remain closed in peace upon this miserable day !" 

He dressed himself long before any one in the prison 
(and jailers are early risers) was awake ; at last there were 
steps in the passage — bolts were drawn and voices heard. 
These familiar sounds recalled him to actual life, and ap- 
proaching, inevitable events. His haughty soul awoke 
again — a dogged pride steeled his heart — he remembered 
the accusation — the execration in which he believed him- 
self to be held — and his innocence. " Retribution or atone- 
ment — I am ready to pay it as it is demanded of me for 
Alithea's sake — but the injustice of man is not lessened on 
this account ; henceforth I am to be stamped with ignominy 
— and yet in what am I worse than my fellows ] at least 
they shall not see that my spirit bends before them." 

He assumed cheerfulness, and bore all the preliminaries 
of preparation with apparent carelessness ; sometimes his 
eagle eye flashed fire — sometimes fixed on vacancy, a whole 
life of memories passed across his mental vision ; but there 
was no haste, no trepidation, no faltering — he never thought 
of danger or of death — innocence sustained him. The ig- 
nominy of the present was all that he felt that he had to 
endure and master — that, and the desolation beyond, when 
branded through life as he beheved he should be, even by 
acquittal, he was henceforth to be looked on as an outcast. 

At length he was led forth to trial — pride in his heart — 
resolution in his eye ; he passed out of the gloomy portal 
of the prison, and entered the sunlit street — houses were 
around ; but through an opening he caught a glimpse of the 



FALKNER. 301 

country — uplands, and lawny fields, and tree-crested hills — 
the work of God himself. Sunshine rested on the scene — 
one used to liberty had regarded with contempt the re- 
stricted view presented by the opening ; but to the prisoner, 
who for months had only seen his prison-walls, it seemed 
as if the creation lay unrolled in its majesty before liim. 
What was man in comparison with the power that upheld 
the earth and bade the sun to shine ? And man was to 
judge him ? What mockery ! Man and all his works were 
but a plaything in the hands of Omnipotence, and to that 
Falkner submitted his destiny. He rose above the degra- 
ding circumstances around him ; he looked down upon his 
fate — a real, a lofty calm at last possessed his soul ; he felt 
that naught said or done that day by his fellow-creatures 
could move him ; his reliance was elsewhere — it rested on 
his own innocence, and his intimate sense that he was in 
no more danger now than if sheltered in the farthest, 
darkest retreat, unknown to man ; he walked as if sur- 
rounded by an atmosphere which no storms from without 
could penetrate. 

He entered the court with a serene brow, and so much 
dignity added to a look that expressed such entire peace of 
conscience, that every one who beheld him became prepos- 
sessed in his favour. His distinct, calm voice declaring 
himself " Not Guilty ;" the confidence, untinged by vaunt- 
ing, with which he uttered the customary appeal to God 
and his country, excited admiration at first, and then, when 
a second sentiment could be felt, the most heart-moving 
pity. Such a man, so unstained by vice, so raised above 
crime, had never stood there before ; accustomed to the 
sight of vulgar rogues or hardened ruffians, wonder was 
mingled witli a certain self-examination, Avhich made each 
man feel that, if justice were done, he probably deserved 
more to be in that dock than the prisoner. 

And then they remembered that he stood there to be con- 
signed to life or death, as the jury should decide. A 
breathless interest was awakened, not only in the specta- 
tors, but even in those hardened by habit to scenes like 
this. Every customary act of the court was accompa- 
nied by a solemnity unfelt before. The feeling, indeed, 
that reigned was something more than solemn ; thirsting 
curiosity and eager wonder gave way before thrilling awe, 
to think that that man might be condemned to an ignomin- 
ious end. 

When once the trial had be^un, and his preliminary part 
had been played, Falkner sat down. He became, to all ap- 
pearance, abstracted. He was, indeed, thinking of things 
more painful than even the present scene ; the screams and 
struggles of the agonized Alithea — her last sad sleep in the 
hut upon the shore — the stranghng, turbid waves — her wet, 
26 



302 FALKNER. 

lifeless form — her low, unnamed grave dug by him ; had 
these been atoned for by long years of remorse and misery, 
or was the present ignominy, and worse that might ensue, 
fitting punishment ? Be it as it might, he was equal to the 
severest blows, and ready to lay down a life in compensa- 
tion for that of which he, most unintentionally, and yet 
most cruelly, had deprived her. His thoughts were not re- 
called to the present scene till a voice struck his ear, so 
like hers — did the dead speak 1 Knit up as he was to the 
endurance of all, he trembled from head to foot ; he had 
been so far away from that place, till the echo, as it were, 
of Alithea's voice recalled him ; in a moment he recovered 
himself, and found that it was her ^hild, Gerard Neville, 
who was giving his evidence. 

He heard the son of his victim speak of him as innocent, 
and a thrill of thankfulness entered his soul ; he smiled, 
and hope and sympathy with his fellow-creatures, and nat- 
ural softening feelings, replaced the gloomy bitterness and 
harshness of his past reflections. He felt that he should be 
acquitted, and that it became him to impress all present fa- 
vourably ; it became him to conduct himself so as to show 
his confidence in the justice of those on whom his fate de- 
pended, and at once to assert the dignity of innocence. 
From that time he gave himself entirely up to the details of 
the trial ; he became attentive, and not the less calm and 
resolute, because he believed that his own exertions would 
crown the hour with success. The spectators saw the 
change in him, and were roused to double interest. The 
court clock, meanwhile, kept measure of the time that 
passed ; the hands travelled silently on — another turn, and 
all would be over — and what would then be ? 



CHAPTER XLIX. 

Elizabeth meanwhile might envy the resolution that 
bore him through these appalling scenes. On the night 
after leaving him, she had not even attempted to rest. 
Wrapped in a shawl, she threw herself on a sofa, and told 
each hour during the livelong night ; her reveries were 
wild, vague, and exquisitely painful. In the morning she 
tried to recall her faculties — she remembered her conviction 
that on that day Falkner would be hbcrated, and she 
dressed herself with care, that she might welcome him with 
the appearances of rejoicing. She expected with uncon- 
querable trepidation the hour when the court would meet. 
Before that hour, there was a knock at her door, and a vis- 
iter was announced ; it was Mrs, Raby. 



FALKNER. 303 

It was indeed a solace to see a friendly face of her own 
sex — she had been so long deprived of this natural support. 
Lady Cecil had now and then written to her — her letters 
were always affectionate, but she seemed stunned by the 
magnitude of the blow that had fallen on her friend, and 
unable to proffer consolation. With kindness of heart, 
sweetness of temper, and much good sense, still Lady Ce- 
cil was commonplace and worldly. I\Irs. Raby was of a 
higher order of being. She saw things too exclusively 
through one medium — and thus the scope of her exertions 
was narrowed ; but that medium was a pure aiid elevated 
one. In visiting Elizabeth, on this occasion, she soared 
beyond it. 

Long and heavily had her desertion of the generous girl 
weighed on her conscience. She could sympathize in her 
heroism, and warmly approve — it was in her nature to 
praise and to reward merit, and she had withheld all tribute 
from her abandoned niece. The interests of her religion, 
blended with those of family, actuated her, and while resist- 
ing a natural impulse of generosity she fancied that she 
was doing right. She had spoken concerning her with no 
one but Lady Cecil ; and she, while she praised her young 
friend, forgot to speak of Falkner, and there lay the stum- 
bling-block to every motion in her favour. 

When Elizabeth repaired to Carlisle, Mrs. Raby returned 
to Belleforest. She scarcely knew how to introduce the 
subject to her father-in-law ; and when she did, he, verging 
into dotage, only said, " Act as you please, my dear, I rely 
on you ; act for the honour and welfare of yourself and your 
children." The old man day by day lost his powers of 
memory and reason ; by the time of the trial he had be- 
come a mere cipher. Every responsibility fell on IMrs. Ra- 
by ; and she, eager to do right and fearful to do wrong, 
struggled with her better nature — wavered, repented, and 
yet remained inactive. 

Neville strongly reprobated the conduct of ever\' one to- 
wards Elizabeth. He had never seen Mrs. Raby, but she in 
particular he regarded with tlie strongest disapprobation. It 
so happened, that, the very day after his father's death, he 
was at Lady Cecil's when Mrs. Raby called, and, by an ex- 
ception in the general orders — made for Elizabeth's sake — 
she was let come up. Gerard was alone in the drawing- 
room when she was announced — he rose hastil}', meaning 
to withdraw, when the lady's appearance changed his entire 
mind. We ridicule the minutiae of the science of physiog- 
nomy — but who is not open to first impressions ? Neville 
was prepossessed favourably by Mrs. Raby's countenance ; 
her open, thoughtful brow, her large, dark, melancholy 
eyes, her dignity of manner, joined to evident marks of 
strong feeling, at once showed him that he saw a woman 



304 FALKNER. 

capable of generous sentiments and heroic sacrifice. He 
felt that there must have been some grievous error in So- 
phia's proceedings not to have awakened more active inter- 
est in her mind. While he was forming these conclusions, 
Mrs. Raby was struck by him in an equally favourable man- 
ner. No one could see Gerard Neville without feeling that 
something angehc — something nobly disinterested — un- 
earthly in its purity, yet, beyond the usual nature of man, 
sympathetic, animated a countenance that was all sensibil- 
ity, genius, and love. In a minute they were intimate 
friends. Lady Cecil, hearing that they were together, 
would not interrupt them ; and their conversation was long. 
Neville related his first acquaintance with Elizabeth Raby 
— he sketched the history of Falkner — he described him — 
and the scene when he denounced himself as the destroyer 
of Alithea. He declared his conviction of his innocence — 
he narrated Sir Boyvill's dying words. Then thi-y both 
dwelt on his long imprisonment, Elizabeth's faithful aff"ec- 
tion, and all that they must have undergone — enough to 
move the stoniest heart. Tears rushed into Gerard's eyes 
while he spoke — while he described her innocence, her in- 
tegrity, her total forgetfulness of self. " And I have de- 
serted her," exclaimed Mrs. Raby ; " we have all deserted 
her — this must not continue. You go to Carlisle to-mor- 
row for the trial ; the moment it is over, and Mr. Falkner 
acquitted — when they have left that town, where all is so 
full of their name and story, I will see her, and try to make 
up for my past neglect." 

• " It will be too late," said Gerard ; " you may then please 
yourself by admiring one so superior to every human be- 
ing ; but you will not benefit her — Falkner acquitted, she 
will have risen above all need of your support. Now is 
the hour to be of use. The very hour of the trial, when 
this unfortunate, heroic girl is thrown entirely on herself — 
wounded by her absolute friendlessness, yet disdaining to 
complain. I could almost wish that Sophia would disre- 
gard appearances, and hasten to her side ; although her 
connexion with our family would render that too strange. 
But you, Mrs. Raby, what should stop you ] she is your 
niece — how vain to attempt to conceal this from the world 
— it must be known — through me, I fondly trust, it will be 
known — who shall claim her as Miss Raby — when, as Eliz- 
abeth Falkner, I could never see her more. And, when it 
is known, will not your desertion be censured ? Be wise, 
be generous — win that noblest and gentlest heart by your 
kindness now, and the very act will be your reward. Hasten 
to Carlisle ; be with her in the saddest hour that ever one 
so young and innocent passed through." 

Mrs. Raby was moved — she was persuaded ; she felt a veil 
fall from before her eyes ; she saw her duty, and she keenly 
felt the littleness of luer past desertion ; she did not hesi- 



PALKNER. 305 

tate ; and now that she perceived how gladly her niece wel- 
comed her in this hour of affliction, and how gratefully she 
appreciated her kindness, she found in the approval of her 
own heart the sweetest recompense for her disinterested- 
ness. 

Elizabeth's swollen eyes, and timid, hurried manner, be- 
trayed how she had passed the night, and how she was pos- 
sessed by the most agitating fears. Still she spoke of the 
acquittal of her father, as she took pride in calling him at 
this crisis, as certain ; and Mrs. Raby, taking advantage of 
this, endeavoured to draw her mind from the torture of rep- 
resenting to herself the progress of the scene then acting 
at so short a distance from them, by speaking of the future. 
Elizabeth mentioned Falkner's determination to quit Eng- 
land, and her own to accompany him ; the hinted dissua- 
sion of Mrs. Raby she disregarded. " He has been a father 
to me — I am his child. What would you say to a daughter 
who deserted her father in adversity and sickness ? And, 
dear Mrs. Raby, you must remember that my father is, in 
spite of all his courage, struck by disease ; accustomed to 
my attentions, he would die if left to hirelings. Deserted 
by me, he would sink into apathy or despair." 

Mrs. Raby listened — she admired the enthusiasm, and yet 
the softness, the sensibility, and firmness of her young kins- 
woman; but she was pained: many ideas assailed her, but 
she would not entertain them — they were too wild and dan- 
gerous ; and yet her heart, formed for generosity, was 
tempted to trample upon the suggestions of prudence and 
the qualms of bigotry. To give diversion to her thoughts, 
she mentioned Gerard Neville. A blush of pleasure, a 
smile shown more in the eyes than on the lips, mantled over 
her niece's countenance. She spoke of him as of a being 
scarcely earthly in his excellence. His devotion to his 
mother first, and lately his generosity towards her — his res- 
olution to go to America, to seek Osborne, for her sake and 
the sake of justice, were themes for eloquence ; she spoke 
with warmth and truth. " Yet, if you follow Mr. Falkner's 
fortunes," said Mrs. Raby, " you will see him no more." 

" I cannot believe that," replied Ehzabeth ; " yet, if it 
must be so, I am resigned. He will never forget me, and I 
shall feel that I am worthy of him, though separated ; bet- 
ter that, than to remain at the sacrifice of all I hold honour- 
able and good ; he would despise me, and that were worse 
absence, an absence of the heart ten thousand times more 
galling, than mere distance of place — one would be eternal 
and irremediable, the other easily obviated when our duties 
should no longer clash. I go with my father because he is 
suflfering ; Neville may join us because he is innocent— he 
will not, I feel and know, either forget me or stay away 
for ever." 
26* 



306 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER L. 

While they were conversing, quick footsteps were heard 
in the street below. Mrs. Raby had succeeded in making 
the time pass more lightly than could be hoped ; it was 
three o'clock — there was a knock at the door of the house. 
Elizabeth, breaking off abruptly, turned ashy pale, and 
clasped her hands in the agony of expectation. Osborne 
rushed into the room. "It is all over!" he exclaimed; 
" all is well !" Tears streamed from his eyes as he spoke 
and ran up to shake hands with Elizabeth, and congratu- 
late her, with an ardour and joy that contrasted strangely 
with the frightened-looking being he had always before 
shown himself. 

" Mr. Falkner is acquitted — he is free — he will soon be 
here ! No one could doubt his innocence that saw him — no 
one did doubt it — the jury did not even retire." Thus Os- 
borne ran on, relating the events of the trial. Falkner's 
mere appearance had prepossessed every one. The frank- 
ness of his open brow, his dignified, unembarrassed manner, 
his voice, whose clear tones were the very echo of truth, 
vouched for him. The barrister who conducted the prose- 
cution narrated the facts rather as a mystery to be inquired 
into than as a crime to be detected. Gerard Neville's testi- 
mony was entirely favourable to the prisoner ; he showed 
how Falkner, wholly unsuspected, safe from the shadow of 
accusation, had spontaneously related the unhappy part he 
took in his unfortunate mother's death, for the sake of re- 
storing her reputation and relieving the minds of her rela- 
tives. The narrative written in Greece, and left as expla- 
nation in case of his death, was further proof of the truth 
of his account. Gerard declared himself satisfied of his in- 
nocence ; and when he stated his father's dying words, his 
desire, at the last hour on the bed of death, to record his be- 
lief in Falkner's being guiltless of the charge brought against 
him — words spoken as it were yesterday, for he who uttered 
them still lay unburied — the surprise seemed to be that he 
should have suffered a long imprisonment and the degrada- 
tion of a trial. Osborne's own evidence was clear and sat- 
isfactory. At last Falkner himself was asked what Jefence 
he had to make. As he rose every eye turned on linn, every 
voice and breath were hushed — a solemn silence reigned. 
His words were few, spoken calmly and impressively ; he 
rested his innocence on the very evidence brought against 
him. He had been the cause of the lady's death, and asked 
for no mercy ; but for her sake, and the sake of that heroic 



FALKNER. 307 

feeling that led her to encounter death amid the waves, he 
asked for justice, and he did not for a moment doubt that it 
would be rendered him. 

" Nor could you doubt it as you heard him," continued 
Osborne. '• Never were truth and innocence written so 
clearly on human countenance as on his as he looked upon 
the jury with his eagle eyes, addressing them without pride, 
but with infinite majesty, as if he could rule their souls 
through the power of a clear conscience and a just cause ; 
they did not hesitate — the jury did not hesitate a moment ; 
I rushed here the moment I heard the words, and now — he 
is come." 

Many steps were again heard in the street below, and 
one, which Elizabeth could not mistake, upon the stairs. 
Falkner entered — she flew to his arms, and he pressed her 
to his bosom, wrapping her in a fond, long embrace, wliile 
neither uttered a word. 

A few moments of trembling almost to agony, a few agi- 
tated tears, and the natural gladness of the hour assumed 
its genuine aspect. Falkner, commanding himself, could 
shake hands with Osborne, and thank him, and Elizabeth 
presented him to Mrs. Raby. He at once comprehended 
the kindness of her visit, and acknowledged it with a heart- 
felt thankfulness that showed how much he had suffered 
while picturing Elizabeth's abandonment. Soon various 
other persons poured into the room, and it was necessary to 
pass through many congratulations, and to thank, and, what 
was really painful, to listen to the outpouring talk of those 
persons who had been present at the trial. Yet, at such a 
moment, the heart, warmed and open, acknowledges few dis- 
tinctions. Among those whose evident joy in the result 
filled Elizabeth with gratitude, she and Falkner felt touched 
by none so much as the visit of a turnkey, who was ashamed 
to show himself, yet who, hearing they were immediately 
to quit Carlisle, begged permission to see them once again. 
The poor fellow, who looked on Elizabeth as an angel and 
Falkner as a demigod — for, not forgetting others in their ad- 
versity, they had discovered and assisted his necessities — 
the poor fellow seemed out of his mind with joy — ecstasy 
was painted on his face — there was no mistaking the clear 
language of a full and grateful heart. 

At length the hurry and tumult subsided — all departed. 
Falkner and his beloved companion were left alone, and for 
a few short hours enjoyed a satisfaction so perfect that an- 
gels might have envied them. Falkner was humbled, it is 
true, and looked to the past with the same remorse ; but in 
vain did he think that his pride ought to feel deeply wound- 
ed by the scene of that day ; in vain did he tell himself that, 
after such a trial, the purity of his honour was tarnished — 
his heart told another tale. Its emphatic emotions banished 



308 FALKNER. 

every conventional or sophisticated regret. He was hon- 
estly though calmly glad, and acknowledged the homely 
feeling with the sincerity of a man who had never been 
nourished in false refinements or factitious woes. 

In the evening, when it was dusk, said Falkner, " Let us, 
love, take a walk." The words made Elizabeth both laugh 
and cry for joy ; he put on his hat, and, with her on his arm, 
they got quickly out of the town, and strolled down a neigh- 
bouring lane. The wind that waved the heads of the still 
leafless trees, the aspect of the starry sky, the wide-spread 
fields, were felt as blessings from Heaven by the liberated 
prisoner. " They all seem," he said, " created purely for 
my enjoyment. How sweet is nature — how divine a thing 
is liberty ! Oh, my God ! I dare not be so happy as 1 would 
— there is one thought to chill the genial glow ; but for the 
image of lost, dead Alithea, I should enjoy a felicity too pure 
for frail humanity." 

As they returned into the town, a carriage with four post- 
ers passed them ; Elizabeth recognised at once Gerard Ne- 
ville within — a pang shot through her heart to remember 
that they did not share their feelings, but were separated, 
perhaps for ever, at this very hour. On her return, worn 
out with fatigue and oppressed with this reflection, she bade 
good-night to Falkner ; and he, happy in the idea that the 
same roof would cover them, kissed and embraced her. On 
entering her room she found a letter on her toilet — and 
smiles again dimpled her face — it was a letter from Neville. 
It contained a few words, a very few, of congratulation, rq- 
minding her that he must hurry back to town for the mel- 
ancholy task of his father's funeral, and imploring that nei- 
ther she nor Falkner would determine on any immediate 
step. " I cannot penetrate the cloud in which we are envel- 
oped," he said ; " but I know that I ought not, that I cannot 
lose you. A little time, a little reflection may show us how 
to accord our various duties with the great necessity of our 
not being separated. Be not rash, therefore, my own Eliz- 
abeth, nor let your friend be rash. Surely the worst is over, 
and we may be permitted at last to hate no more, and to be 
happy." 

Elizabeth kissed the letter, and placed il beneath her pil- 
low. That night she slept sweetly and well. 

Early in the morning Mrs. Raby called on them. The 
same prepossession which Gerard "had felt in her favour as 
soon as he saw her, had taken place in her on seeing Falk- 
ner. There is a sort of magnetism that draws like to like, 
and causes minds of fine and lofty tone to recognise each 
other when brought in contact. Mrs. Raby saw and ac- 
knowledged at once Falkner's superiority ; whatever his 
faults had been, they were winnowed away by adversity, 
and he was become at once the noblest and gentlest of 



FALKNER. 309 

human beings. Mrs. Raby had that touch of generosity in 
her own character that never permitted her to see merit 
without openly acknowledging and endeavouring to reward 
it. The first thought of the plan she now entertained she 
had cast away as impracticable, but it returned ; the desire 
to give and to benefit, a natural growth in her heart, made 
her look on it with complacency — by degrees she dismissed 
the objections that presented themselves, and resolved to 
act upon it. " We complain," she thought, " of the bar- 
renness of life, and the tediousness and faults of our fellow- 
rreatures ; and when Providence brings before us two selected 
from the world as endowed with every admirable quality, 
we allow a thousand unworthy considerations, which as- 
sume the voice of prudence, to exile us from them. Where 
can I find a man like Falkner, full of honour, sensibility, 
and talent ? where a girl like Elizabeth, who has proved 
herself to be the very type of virtuous fidelity ? Such com- 
panions will teach my children better than volumes of moral 
treatises, the existence and loveliness of human goodness." 

Mrs. Raby passed a sleepless night, revolving these 
thoughts. In the morning she called on her new friends; 
and then, with all the grace that was her peculiar charm, she 
invited them to accompany her to Belleforest, and to take 
up their residence there for the next few months. 

Elizabeth's eyes sparkled with delight. Falkner at once 
accepted the invitation for her, and declined it for himself. 
" You hear him, my dear aunt," cried Elizabeth ; " but you 
will not accept his refusal — you will not permit this per- 
versity." 

" You forget many things when you speak thus," said 
Falkner; "but Mrs. Raby remembers them all. I thank 
her for her kindness ; but I am sure she will admit of the 
propriety of my declining her invitation." 

" You imagine then," replied Mrs. Raby, " that I made it 
for form's sake — intending it should be refused. You mis- 
take. I know what you mean, and all you would covertly 
suggest — let us cast aside the ceremonies of mere acquaint- 
anceship — let us be friends, and speak with the openness 
natural to us — do you consent to this ?" 

" You are good, very good," said Falkner ; " except this 
dear girl, who will deign to be my friend ?" 

" If I thought," replied Mrs. Raby, " that your heart was 
BO narrowed by the disasters and injustice you have suffer- 
ed, that you must hereafter shut youreelf up with the re- 
membrance of them, I should feel inclined to retract my 
offer, for friendship is a mutual feeling ; and he who feels 
only for himself can be no one's friend. But this is not 
the case with you. You have a heart true to every touch 
of sympathy, as Elizabeth can testify — siiice you determin- 
ed to live for her sake, when driven to die by the agony of 



310 FALKNER. 

your sufferings. Let us, then, at once dismiss notions 
which I must consider as unworthy of us. When we turn 
to the page of history, and read of men visited by adversity 
— what do we say to those of their fellow-creatures who 
fall off from them on account of their misfortunes ] Do we 
not call them little-minded, and visit them with our con- 
tempt ? Do not class me with such. I might pass you 
carelessly by if you had always been prosperous. It is 
your misfortunes that inspire me with friendship — that ren- 
der me eager to cultivate an intimacy with one who has 
risen above the most frightful calamity that could befall a 
man, and shown himself at once repentant and courageous. 

" You will understand what I mean without long expla- 
nation — we shall have time fur that hereafter. 1 honour 
you. What my heart feels, my voice and actions will ever 
be ready to proclaim. For EUzabeth's sake, you must not 
permit the world to think that he who adopted and brought 
her up is unworthy of regard and esteem. Come with us 
to Belleforest — you must not refuse ; I long to introduce my 
girls to their matchless cousin — I long to win her heart by 
my affection and kindness ; and if you will permit me the 
enviable task, how proud and glad I shall be to repay a por- 
tion of what we owe you on her account, by endeavouring 
to compensate, by a few months of tranquillity and friend- 
ship, for the misery you have undergone." 

Mrs. Raby spoke with sincerity and earnestness, and 
Elizabeth's eyes pleaded her cause yet more eloquently. 
" Where you go," she said to Falkner, " there also 1 shall 
be — I shall not repine however you decide — but we shall 
be very happy at Belleforest." 

It was real modesty, and no false pride, that actuated 
Falkner. He felt happy, yet when he looked outward he 
fancied that hereafter he must be shut out from society — a 
branded man. He intimately felt the injustice of this. He 
accepted it as a punishment for the past, but he did not the 
less proudly rise above it. It was a real pleasure to find 
one entertaining the generous sentiments which Mrs. Raby 
expressed, and capable of acting on them. He felt worthy 
of her regard, and acknowledged that none but conventional 
reasons placed any barrier to his accepting her kind offers. 
Why then should he reject them ? He did not ; frankly, 
and with sincere thanks, he suffered himself to be overruled ; 
and on the following day they were on their road to Belle- 
forest. 



FALKNER. 311 



CHAPTER LI. 

It was one of those days which do sometimes occur in 
March — warm and bahny, and enlivening as spring always 
is. The birds were busy among the leafless boughs ; and 
if the carriage stopped for a moment, the gushing song of 
the skylark attracted the eye to his blue ethereal bower; 
a joyous welcome was breathed by nature to every heart, 
and none answered it so fervently as Falkner. Sentiments 
of pleasure possessed all three travellers. Mrs. Raby ex- 
perienced that exultation natural to all human beings when 
performing a generous action. Elizabeth felt that in going 
to Belleforest she drew nearer Neville— for there was no 
reason why he should not enter her grandfather's doors ; 
but Falkner was happier than either. It was not the vulgar 
joy of having escaped danger ; partly it was gladness to see 
Elizabeth restored to her family, where only, as things 
were, she could find happiness, and yet not divided from 
him. Partly it arose from the relief he felt, as the burden 
of heav}', long-endured care was lifted from his soul. But 
there w?.s something more, which was incomprehensible 
even to himself. " His bosom's lord sat lightly on its 
throne" — he no longer turned a saddened, reproachful eye 
on nature, nor any more banished soft emotions, nourishing 
remorse as a duty. He was reconciled to himself and the 
world ; the verj^ circumstances of his prison and his trial 
being over, took with them the more galling portion of his 
retrospections — health again filled his veins. At the mo- 
ment when he had first accused himself, Neville saw in him 
a man about to die. It was evident now that the seeds of 
disease were destroyed — his person grew erect — his eye 
clear and animated. Elizabeth had never, since they left 
Greece, seen him so free from suffering ; during all her in- 
tercourse with him, she n^^ver remembered him so bland 
and cheerful in his mood. It was the reward of much suf- 
fering — the gift of Heaven to one who had endured patient- 
ly — opening his heart to the aflTections instead of cherishing 
pride and despair. It was the natural result of a noble dis- 
position, which could raise itself above even its own errors 
— throwing off former evil as alien to its nature — embracing 
good as its indefeasible right. 

They entered the majestic avenues and imbowered glades 
of Belleforest — where cedar, larch, and pine diversified the 
bare woods with a show of foliage — the turf was covered 
with early flowers — the buds were green and bursting on 
the boughs. Falkner remembered his visit the preceding 
summer. How little had he then foreseen impending events ; 



312 FALKNER. 

and how far from his heart had then been the peace that at 
present so unaccountably possessed it. Then the wide de- 
mesne and stately mansion had appeared the abode of gloom 
and bigotry ; now it was changed to a happy valley, where 
love and cheerfulness reigned. 

Mrs. Raby was welcomed by her children — two elegant 
girls of fifteen and sixteen, and a spirited boy of twelve. 
They adored their mother, and saw in their new cousin an 
occasion for rejoicing. Their sparkling looks and gay 
voices dispelled the last remnant of melancholy from the 
venerable mansion. Old Oswi Raby himself — too much 
sunk in dotage to understand what was going on — yet smiled 
and looked glad on the merry faces about him. He could 
not exactly make out who Elizabeth was — he was sure that 
it was a relation, and he treated her with an obsequious re- 
spect, which, considering his former impertinent tone, was 
exceedingly amusing. 

What was wanting to complete the universal happiness ? 
Elizabeth's spirits rose to unwonted gayety in the society 
of her young relations — and her cousin Edwiji in particular 
found her the most delightful companion in the world — for 
she was as fearless on horseback as himself, and was un- 
wearied in amusing him by accounts of the foreign coun- 
tries she had seen — and adventures, ridiculous or fearful, 
that she had encountered. In Mrs. Raby she found a be- 
loved friend for serious hours; and Falkner's recovered 
health and spirits were a source of exhaustless congratula- 
tion. 

Yet where was Gerard Neville ? Where the looks of 
love and rapturous sense of sympathy, before which all 
the other joys of Hfe fade into dimness ? Love causes us 
to get more rid of our haunting identity, and to give our- 
selves more entirely away than any other emotion ; it is the 
most complete, the most without veil or shadow to mar its 
beauty. Every other human passion occupies but a distinct 
portion of our being. This assimilates with all, and turns 
the whole into bliss or misery. Elizabeth did not fear that 
Gerard would forget her. He had remembered through the 
dark hours gone by — and now his shadow walked with her 
beneath the avenues of Belleforest, and the recollection of 
his love impregnated the balmy airs of spring with a sweet- 
ness unfelt before. Elizabeth had now leisure to love — and 
many an hour she spent in soUtary yet blissful dreams — al- 
most wondering that such happiness was to be found on 
earth. What a change — what a contrast between the death- 
girt prison of Carlisle and the love-adorned glades of her 
ancestral park ! Not long ago the sky appeared to bend 
over one universe of tears and wo — and now, in the midst, 
a piece of heaven had dropped down upon earth, and she 
had entered the enchanted gromid. 



FALKNER. 313 

' Yet as weeks sped on, some thoughts troubled her re- 
pose. Gerard neither came nor wrote. At length she got 
a letter from Lady Cecil, congratulating her on Falkner's 
acquittal, and the kindness of her aunt ; her letter was ami- 
able, yet it was constrained ; and Elizabeth, reading it again 
and again, and pondering on every expression, became 
aware that her friends felt less satisfaction than she did in 
the turn of fortune that placed her and Falkner together 
under her paternal roof. She had believed that, as Elizabeth 
Raby, Neville would at once claim her ; but she was forced 
to recollect that Falkner was still at her side ; and what 
intercourse could there be between him and his mother's 
destroyer I 

Thus anxiety and sadness penetrated poor Elizabeth's 
new-found paradise. She strove to appear the same, but 
she stole away, when she could, to meditate alone on her 
strange lot. It doubled her regret to think that Neville 
also was unhappy. She figured the struggles he underwent. 
She almost thought that, if he were happy, she could bear 
all. She remembered him as she last saw him, agitated 
and wretched — she alone, she felt sure, could calm — she 
alone minister happiness — and were they never more to 
meet? 

Falkner, who watched Elizabeth with all the jealousy of 
excessive aflection, soon perceived the change. At first, 
her gayety had been spontaneous, her step free, her voice 
and laugh the very echo of joy : now, the forced smile, the 
frequent abstraction, the eagerness with which she watched 
for opportunities to steal into solitude, while her attentions 
to him became even more sedulous and tender ; as if she 
wished to prove how ready she was to make every sacrifice 
for his sake — all these appearances he saw, and his heart 
ached to think how the effects of his errors still spread 
poison over his own life and that of one so dear. 

He felt sure that Mrs. Raby shared his uneasiness. She 
and her niece were much less together than before. Ehz- 
abeth could not speak of the thoughts that occupied her ; 
and she could not feign with her dear, wise friend, whose 
eyes read her soul, and whose counsels or consolations she 
alike feared. Falkner saw Mrs. Raby's regards fix anxious- 
ly on her young relative ; he penetrated her thoughts, and 
again he was forced to abhor himself as the destroyer of the 
happiness of all who came within his sphere. 

It was evident that some communication must take place 
between some one of the individuals thus misplaced and 
wretched. Elizabeth alone was resigned, and therefore si- 
lent. Falkner longed to act rather than to speak ; to de- 
part, to disappear for ever ; he also, therefore, brooded 
mutely over the state of tilings. Mrs. Raby, seeing the 
wretchedness that was creeping over the hearts of those 
27 O 



314 PALKNER. 

whose happiness she most desired, was the first to entei' on 
the subject. One day, being alone with Falkner, she be- 
gan : " The more I see and admire my dearest niece," she 
said, " the greater I feel our obligation to be to you, Mr. Falk- 
ner, for having made her what she is. Her natural dispo- 
sition is full of excellence, but it is the care and the educa- 
tion you bestowed which give her character so high a tone. 
, Had she come to us in her childhood, it is more than prob- 
able she would have been placed in a convent — and what 
nature, however perfect, but would be injured by the system 
that reigns in those places ! To you we owe oiu- fairest 
flower, and if gratitude could repay you, you would be re- 
paid by mine ; to prove it, and to serve you, must always be 
the most pleasing duty of my life." 

" I should be much happier," said Falkner, " if I could re- 
gard my interference as you do ; I fear I have injured irrep- 
arably my beloved girl, and that, through me, she is suffer- 
ing pangs which she is too good to acknowledge, but which, 
in the end, may destroy her. Had I restored her to you, 
had she been brought up here, she and Gerard Neville would 
not now be separated." 

*' But they might never have met," replied Mrs. Raby. 
" It is indeed vain thus to regard the past ; not only is it un- 
alterable, but each link of the chain, producing the one that 
followed, seems, in our instance, to have been formed and 
riveted by a superior power for peculiar purposes. The 
whole order of events is inscrutable ; one little change, and 
none of us would be as we are now. Except as a lesson 
or a warning, we ought not to contemplate the past, but the 
future certainly demands our attention. It is impossible 
to see Gerard Neville and not to feel an intense interest in 
him ; he is worthy of our Elizabeth, and he is ardently at- 
tached to her, and has, besides, made a deep impression on 
her young heart, which I would not have erased or lessened ; 
for I am sure that her happiness, as far as mortals can be 
happy, will be ensured by their marriage." 

" I stand in the way of this union ; of that I am well 
aware," said Falkner ; " but be assured I will not continue 
to be an obstacle to the welfare of my angel girl. It is for 
this that I would consult you : how are contradictions to be 
reconciled, or rather, how can we contrive my absence so 
as to remove every impediment, and yet not to awaken Eliz- 
abeth's suspicions T" 

" I dislike contrivances," replied Mrs. Raby, " and I hate 
all mystery — suffer me, therefore, to speak frankly to you 
— I have often conversed with Elizabeth ; she is firm not to 
marry, so as to be wholly divided from you. She reasons 
calmly, but she never wavers : she will not, she says, com- 
mence new duties by, in the first place, betraying her old 
ones ; she should be for ever miserable if she did, and 



FALKNER. 313 

therefore those who love her must not ask it. Sir Gerard 
entertains similar sentiments with regard to himself, though 
less resolute, and, I believe, less just than hers. I received 
a letter from him this morning. I was pondering whether 
to show it to you or to my niece ; it seems to me best that 
you should read it, if it will not annoy you." 

" Give it me," said Falkner ; " and permit me also to 
answer it — it is not in my nature to dally with evils — 1 shall 
meet those that now present themselves, and bring the best 
remedy I can, at whatever cost." 

Neville's letter was that of a man whose wishes were at 
war with his principles ; and yet who was not convinced 
of the justice of the application of those principles. It 
began by deeply regretting the estrangement of Elizabeth 
from his family, by asking Mrs. Raby if she thought that 
she could not be induced to pay another visit to Lady Cecil. 
He said that that lady was eager to see her, and only delayed 
asking her till she ascertained whether her friendship, which 
was warm and lively as ever, would prove as acceptable as 
formerly. 

" I will at once be frank with you," the letter continued ; 
/' for your excellent understanding may direct us, and will 
suggest excuses for our doubts. You may easily divine the 
cause of our perplexities, though you can scarcely compre- 
hend the extremely painful nature of mine. Permit me to 
treat you as a friend — be the judge of my cause — I have 
faith in the purity and uprightness of a woman's heart, when 
she is endowed with gifts such as you possess. I had once 
thought to refer myself to Miss Raby herself, but I dread 
the generous devotedness of her disposition. Will you, who 
love her, take therefore the task of decision on yourself?" 

Neville went on to express, in few but forcible words, his 
attachment to Elizabeth, his conviction that it could never 
change, and his persuasion that she returned it. " It is not 
therefore my cause merely that I plead," he said, " but hers 
also. Do not call me presumptuous for thus expressing 
myself. A mutual attachment alone can justify extraor- 
dinary conduct ; but where it is mutual, every minor con- 
sideration ought to give way before it ; the happiness of 
both our lives depends upon our not trifling with feelings 
which I am sure can never change. They may be the 
source of perpetual felicity — if not, they will, they must be 
pregnant with misery to the end of our lives. But why this 
sort of explanation, when the meaning that I desire to con- 
vey is, that if — that as, may I not say — we love each other — 
no earthly power shall deprive me of her — sooner or later 
she must, she shall be mine; and meanwhile this continued 
separation is painful beyond my fortitude to bear. 

" Can I take my mother's destroyer by the hand, and live 
with him on terms of intimacy and friendship T Such is the 
03 



316 FALKNER. 

price I must pay for Elizabeth — can I — may I — so far forget 
the world's censure, and, I may say, the instigations of na- 
ture, as unreservedly to forgive 1 

" I will confess to you, dear Mrs. Raby, that when I saw 
Falkner in the most degrading situation in which a man 
can be placed, manacled, and as a felon, his dignity of mien, 
his majestic superiority to all the race of common mortals 
around, the grandeur of his calm yet piercing eye, and the 
sensibility of his voice — won my admiration ; with such is 
peopled that heaven where the noble penitent is more wel- 
come than the dull follower of a narrow code of morals, 
who never erred, because he never felt. I pardon him, 
then, from my heart, in my mother's name. These senti- 
ments, the entire forgiveness of the injury done me, and the 
sense of his merits, still continue : but may I act on them '? 
would not you despise me if I did 1 say but that you would, 
and my sentence is pronounced — I lose Elizabeth — I quit 
England for ever — it matters little whei'e I go. 

" Yet, before you decide, consider that this man possesses 
virtues of the highest order. He honoured as much as he 
loved my mother, and if his act was criminal, dearly has he 
paid the result. I persuade myself that there is more real 
sympathy between me and my mother's childhood's friend 
— who loved her so long and truly — whose very crime was 
a mad excess of love — than one who knew nothing of her 
— to whom her name conjures up no memories, no regret. 

"I feel that I could lament with Falkner the miserable 
catastrophe, and yet not curse him for bringing it about. 
Nay — as with such a man there can be no half sentiments 
— 1 feel that if we are thrown together, his noble quahties 
will win ardent sentiments of friendship; were not his vic- 
tim my mother, there does not exist a man whose good 
opinion I should so eagerly seek and highly prize as that of 
Rupert Falkner. It is that fatal name which forms the bar- 
rier between me and charity — shutting me out, at the same 
time, from hope and love. 

" Thus incoherently I put down my thoughts as they rise 
— a tangled maze which I ask you to unravel. I will en- 
deavour to abide by your decision, whatever it may be ; yet 
I again ask you to pause. Is Elizabeth's happiness as deeply 
implicated as mine ! if it be, can I abide by any sentence 
that shall condemn her to a wretchedness similar to that 
which has so long been an inmate of my struggling heart 1 
no ; sooner than inflict one pang on her, I will fly from the 
world. We three will seek some far obscure retreat and be 
happy, despite the world's censure, and even your condem- 
nation." 

Falkner's heart swelled within him as he read. He could 
not but admire Neville's candour — and he was touched by 
the feelings he expressed towards himself; but pride was 



PALKNER, 317 

Stronger than regret, and prompted an instant and decisive 
reply. He rebelled against the idea that Gerard and Eliza- 
beth should suffer through him, and thus he wrote : — 

" You have appealed to Mrs. Rahy ; will you suffer me 
_ to answer that appeal, and to decide ! I have a belter right ; 
for kind as she is, I have Elizabeth's welfare yet more 
warmly at heart. 

" The affection that she feels for you will endure to the 
end of her life — for her faithful heart is incapable of change ; 
on you therefore depends her happiness, and your are called 
upon to make some sacrifice- to ensure it. Come here, take 
her at my hand — it is all I ask — from that hour you shall 
never see me more — the injured and the injurer will sepa- 
rate ; my fortunes are of my own earning, and I can bear 
them. You must compensate to my dear child for my loss 
— you must be father as well as husband — and speak kindly 
of me to her, or her heart will break. 

" We must be secretin our proceedings — mystery and de- 
ception are contrary to my nature — but I willingly adopt 
them for her sake. Mrs. Raby must not be trusted ; but 
you and I love Elizabeth sufficiently even to sacrifice a por- 
tion of our integrity to secure her happiness. For her own 
sake we must blindfold her. She need never learn that we 
deceived her. She will naturally be separated from me for 
a short time — the period will be indefinitely prolonged — till 
new duties arise wholly to wean her from me — and I shall 
be forgotten. 

" Come then at once — endure the sight of the guilty 
Falkner for a few short days — till you thus earn his dearest 
treasure — and do not fear that I shall intrude one moment 
longer than is absolutely necessary for our success ; be as- 
sured that when once Elizabeth is irrevocably yours, wide 
seas shall roll between us. Nor will your codescension to my 
wish bring any stigma on yourself or your bride, for Miss 
Raby does not bear my tainted name. All I ask is, that 
you will not delay. It is difficult for me to cloak my feel- 
ings to one so dear — let my task of deception be abridged 
as much as possible. 

" I shall give my Elizabeth to you with confidence and 
pleasure. You deserve her. Your generous disposition 
will enable you to endure her affection for me, and even her 
grief at my departure. Never speak unkindly of me to 
her. Wlien you see me no more, you will find less difficul- 
ty in forgetting the injury I have done you ; you must en- 
deavour to remember only the benefit you receive in gain- 
ing Elizabeth." 
27* 



318 FALKNER. 



CHAPTER LII. 

The beautiful month of May had arrived, with her light 
budding foliage, which seems to hang over the hoar branch- 
es of the trees like a green aerial mist — the nightingales 
sung through the moonlight night, and every other feath- 
ered chorister took up the note at early dawn. The sweet- 
est flowers in the year embroidered the fields ; and the ver- 
dant corn-fields were spread like a lake, now glittering in 
the sun, now covered over by the shadows of the clouds. 
It appeared impossible not to hope — not to enjoy ; yet a 
seriousness had again gathered over Falkner's countenance 
that denoted the return of care. He avoided the society 
even of Elizabeth — his rides were solitary — his evenings 
passed in the seclusion of his own room. Elizabeth, for 
the first time in her life, grew a little discontented. " I sa- 
crificed all to him," she thought, "yet I cannot make him 
happy. Love alone possesses the sceptre and arbitrary 
power to rule ; every other aflfection admits a parliament of 
thoughts — and debate and divisions ensue, which may make 
us wiser, but which sadly derogates from the throned state 
of what we fancy a master sentiment. I cannot make 
Falkner happy ; yet Neville is miserable through my en- 
deavours — and to such struggle there is no end — my prom- 
ised faith is inviolable, nor do I even wish to break it." 

One balmy, lovely day, Elizabeth rode out with her cous- 
ins ; Mrs. Raby was driving her father-in-law through the 
grounds in the pony phaeton — Falkner had been out, and 
was returned. Several days had passed, and no answer 
arrived from Neville. He was uneasy and sad, and yet re- 
joiced at the respite aflTorded to tlie final parting with his 
child. Suddenly, from tlie glass doors of the saloon he 
perceived a gentleman riding up the avenue ; he recognised 
him, and exclaimed, " All is over !" At that moment he felt 
himself transported to a distant land — surrounded by stran- 
gers — cut off from all he held dear. Such must be the 
consequence of the arrival of Gerard Neville ; and it was 
he who, dismounting, in a few minutes after entered the 
room. 

He came up to Falkner, and held out his hand, saying, 
" We must be friends, Mr. Falkner — from this moment I 
trust that we are friends. We join together for the happiness 
of the dearest and most perfect being in the world." 

Falkner could not take his hand — his manner grew cold ; 
but he readily replied, " I hope we do ; and we must con- 
cert together to ensure our success." 



FALKNERi 319 

" Yet there is one other," continued Neville, " whom we 
must take into our consultations." 

"Mrs. RabyV 

" No ! Elizabeth herself. She alone can decide for us all, 
and teach us the right path to take. Do not mistake me ; I 
know the road she will point out, and am ready to follow 
it. Do you think I could deceive her ? Could 1 ask her to 
give me her dear self, and thus generously raise me to the 
very height of human happiness, with deception on my lips ? 
I were indeed unworthy of her, if I were capable of such an 
act. 

" Yet, but for the sake of honest tnith, I would not even 
consult her— my own mind is made up if you consent ; I am 
come to you, Mr. Falkner, as a suppliant, to ask you to give 
me your adopted child, but not to separate you from her : I 
should detest myself if I were the cause of so much sorrow 
to either. If my conduct need explanation in the world, 
you are my excuse, I need go no further. We must both 
join in rendering Miss Raby happy, and both, I trust, re- 
main friends to the end of our lives." 

"You are generous," replied Falkuer; " perhaps you are 
just. I am WiA unworthy of the friendship you offer, were 
you any other than )^ou are." 

" It is because I a:n such as I am that I venture to make 
advances which would be impertinent from any other." 

At this moment, a light step was heard on the lawn with- 
out, and Elizabeth stood before them. She paused in utter 
wonder on seeing Falkner and Neville together ; soon sur- 
prise was replaced by undisguised delight — her expressive 
countenance became radiant with happiness. Falkner ad- 
dressed her : "I present a friend to you, dear Elizabeth; I 
leave you with him — he will best explain his purposes aud 
wishes. Meanwhile I must remark, that I consider him 
bound by nothing that has been said ; you must take coun- 
sel together — you must act for your mutual happiness — that 
is all the condition I make — I yield to no other. Be happy ; 
and, if it be necessary, forget me, as I am very willing to for» 
get myself." 

Falkner left them ; and they instinctively, so to prevent 
interruption, took their way into a woody glade of the park ; 
and as they walked beneath the shadows of some beautiful 
lime-trees, on the crisp green turf, disclosed to each other 
every inner thought and feeling. Neville declared his re- 
solve not to separate her from her benefactor. " If the 
world censure me," he said, " I am content ; I am accus- 
tomed to its judgments, and never found them sway or an- 
noy me. I do right for my own heart. It is a godlike task 
to reward the penitent. In religion and morality, I know 
that I am justified ; whether I am in the code of worldly 
honour, I leave others to decide ; and yet I believe that I 



320 FALKNER. 

am. I had once thought to have met Falkner in a duel, but 
my father's vengeance prevented that. He is now acquitted 
before all the world of being more than the accidental 
cause of my dear mother's death. Knights of old, after they 
fought in right good earnest, became friends, each finding, 
in the bravery of the other, a cause for esteem. Such is 
the situation of Rupert Falkner and myself; and we will 
both join, dear Elizabeth, in making him forget the past, and 
rendering his future years calm and happy." 

Elizabeth could only look her gratitude. She felt, as was 
most true, that this was not a cause for words or reason. 
Falkner in himself offered, or did not offer, full excuse for 
the generosity of Neville. No one could see him, and not 
allow that the affectionate, duteous son in no way derogated 
from his reverence for his mother's memory, by entirely for- 
giving him who honoured her as an earthly angel, and had 
deplored, through years of unutterable anguish, the mortal 
injury done her. Satisfied in his own mind that he acted 
rightly, Neville did not seek for any other approval ; and 
yet he gladly accepted it from Elizabeth, whose heart, 
touched to its very core by his nobleness, felt an almost 
painful weight of gratitude and love ; she tried to express 
it: fortunately, between lovers mere langunge is net nc 
cessary ineffectually to utter that which transcends all ex- 
pression. Neville felt himself most sweetly thanked; a 
more happy pair never trod this lovely earth than the two 
that, closely linked hand in hand, and with hearts open and 
true as the sunlight about them, enjoyed the sweetest hour 
of love, the first of acknowledged perpetual union, beneath 
the majestic, deep-shadowing thickets of Belleforest. 

All that had seemed so difficult now took its course 
easily. They did not any of them seek to account for or 
to justify the course they took. They each knew that they 
could not do other than they did. Elizabeth could not 
break faith with Falkner — Neville could not renounce her ; 
it might be strange — but it must be so; they three must re- 
main together through life, despite all of tragic and miser- 
able that seemed to separate them. 

Even Lady Cecil admitted that there was no choice. 
Elizabeth must be won — she was too dear a treasure to be 
voluntarily renounced. In a few weeks, the wedding-day 
of Sir Gerard Neville and Miss Raby being fixed, she joined 
them at Belleforest, and saw, with genuine pleasure, the 
happiness of the two persons whom she esteemed and 
loved most in the world, secured. Mrs. Raby's warm heart 
reaped its own reward in witnessing this felicitous conclu- 
sion of her inteference. 

Whether the reader of this eventful tale will coincide 
with every other person, fully in the confidence of all, in 
the opinion that such was the necessaay termination of a 



FALKNER, 321 

position full of difficulty, is hard to say — but so it was ; and 
it is most certain that no woman who ever saw Rupert 
Falkner but thought Neville just and judicious ; and if any 
man disputed this point, when, he saw Elizabeth he was an 
immediate convert. 

As much happiness as any one can enjoy, whose inner 
mind bears the unhealing wound of a culpable act, fell to 
the portion of Falkner. He had repented ; and was for- 
given, we may believe, in heaven, as well as on earth. He 
could not forgive himself — and this one shadow remained 
upon his lot — it could not be got rid of; yet perhaps in the 
gratitude he felt to those about him, in the softened tender- 
ness inspired by the sense that he was dealt with more 
leniently than he believed that he deserved, he found full 
compensation fdr the memories that made him feel himself 
a perpetual mourner beside Alithea's grave. 

Neville and Elizabeth had no drawback to their felicity. 
They cared not for the world, and when they did enter it, 
the merits of both commanded respect and liking ; they 
were happy in each other, happy in a growing family, 
happy in Falkner ; whom, as Neville had said, it was im- 
possible to regard with lukewarm sentiments ; and they de- 
rived a large store of happiness from his enlightened mind, 
from the elevated tone of moral feeling, which was the re- 
sult of his sufferings, and from the deep affection with 
which he regarded them both. They were happy also in 
the wealth which gave scope to the benevolence of their 
dispositions, and in the talents that guided them rightly 
through the devious maze of life. They often visited Dro- 
more, but their chief time was spent at their seat in Bucks, 
near which Falkner had purchased a villa. He lived in re- 
tirement : he grew a sage amid his books and his own re- 
flections. But his heart was true to itself to the end, and 
his pleasures were derived from the society of his beloved 
Elizabeth, of Neville, who was scarcely less dear, and their 
beautiful children. Surrounded by these, he felt no want 
of the nearest ties; they were to him as his own. Time 
passed lightly on, bringing no apparent change ; thus they 
still live — and Neville has never for a moment repented the 
irresistible impulse that led him to become the friend of 
him whose act had rendered his childhood miserable, but 
who completed the happiness of his maturer years. 



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